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Outlet Malls Trying New Things As Growth Continues To Soar



Outlet malls are experimenting with new food concepts and full-price retailers within the centers.
When the recession hit back in 2008, virtually every industry felt a pinch. Consumer habits quickly changed to adapt to tightening purse strings, and some of those habits have stuck in the years since. One of those habits was hunting for the best deals possible, and outlet malls began to pick up a serious amount of momentum as a result. 

As Marketwatch shares, if we fast forward to today, outlet malls are still going strong. Developers and landlords continue to pour money into them, and consumers keep on coming to hunt for deals. Interestingly, outlet malls are beginning to evolve somewhat. Once thought of as a place for retailers to clean out some inventory overload at a discount, some retailers are experimenting with full-price stores at these malls.

Outlet mall

The concept makes a ton of sense, as the shoppers are already in place based on foot traffic counts. Why not put your best and brightest merchandise in front of them. As CoStar research director Suzanne Mulvee explains, that’s not all that outlet malls are beginning to experiment with.      

“Developers are more often targeting locations closer to population centers and closer to higher-income households. As the environment they’re operating in has become more and more challenging, they’re willing to experiment more,” says Mulvee. “You’re seeing a lot more food going into these centers. You’re also seeing full-price retailers take space within outlet centers.”

Expanding the food offerings at these centers makes a ton of sense as well. For a family or group of friends that’s spending the day shopping and browsing, sometimes they want more than food court options to take a little break with. Additional fast casual and full-service dining options just may keep them on site a little bit longer, as shoppers will tend to linger a bit longer if all of their needs are tended to. 

Lisa Wagner, a consultant with the Outlet Resource Group, shares in the optimism that the good times will keep on rolling for outlet malls. As with every brick-and-mortar sector, it’s important to stay relevant for the next generation, but Wagner thinks outlet malls have a bit of a head start in that regard.   

“We always say that outlets are great in good times and they’re even better in bad times. The recession of 2008 really bore that out,” said Wagner. “And the millennials have grown up with outlets. So this is part of their shopping behavior and it’s quite deep.”

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