BRANDON — It's that time of year again.
The mall is decorated like a winter wonderland, and Santa Claus is posing with tiny tots. Extra employees have been put on the payroll, and Christmas music is pumping through the speaker system.
It's the holiday shopping season.
And that means long lines, traffic and limited parking spaces.
But the staff at Westfield Brandon mall has planned ahead in order to make the experience go as smoothly as possible.
We recently quizzed Dawn Arvidson, marketing director at Westfield Brandon, about what shoppers can expect.
Construction has started on Gornto Lake Road. What kind of traffic can mall visitors expect from that?
All current enter and exits roads will operate as normal throughout the holiday shopping season. We are partnering with the county to temporarily halt construction over the holidays on the Gornto Lake intersection that links to Town Center Drive.
Even without the construction, traffic is going to be inevitable this time of year. What is Westfield Brandon going to do to alleviate some of that?
We work closely with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office to maximize efficiency and traffic flow on the access roads, which are on the mall's property. Measures are in place to minimize congestion and provide efficient entry and exit for shoppers during peak shopping times.
How long will the construction be going on? Will there be any road closures or blockages from the construction?
The estimated completion date, provided by the county, is late 2013. The Gornto Lake intersection will remain open; however, early next year there will be slight lane shifts as the intersection is reconfigured.
What advice does the mall have for shoppers coming during this busy time of year, to avoid traffic?
We encourage shoppers to use one of the three additional entrances to the center as an alternative to S.R. 60. Alternate entrances can be accessed from Providence Road, Causeway Boulevard and Gornto Lake Road.
What else can shoppers be on the lookout for during the holiday season?
To help shoppers identify the hottest gifts this holiday season, Westfield has created a "Gifts We Love" gift guide series available on Facebook that will provide daily gifts suggestions at various price points available at our retailers. Plus, Westfield is hosting a national "Love to Gift" sweepstakes, also via Facebook, which will "Cover Christmas" with a $1,000 shopping spree for four lucky shoppers.