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#1 Dcurtis

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Posted 13 March 2008 - 08:33 AM

Outlet malls get flashier - and closer to home

With 3 outlet centers planned to open in '09, area shopping commutes will get shorter


09:19 AM CDT on Thursday, March 13, 2008
By MARIA HALKIAS / The Dallas Morning News
mhalkias@dallasnews.com

An outlet mall used to mean a day trip for shoppers seeking bargains they just couldn't get anywhere else.

Today, the distinction between an outlet mall and a regular mall has blurred, as shoppers and retailers have changed their practices amid technological changes and industry consolidation. New outlet malls are bigger and closer to population centers.

In the last few weeks, Dallas developer Icon Partners has announced plans for an outlet center in Farmers Branch, Tanger Factory Outlet Centers Inc. has done the same in Irving, and the city of Grand Prairie has approved plans for a center developed by Prime Retail Inc.

All three companies say their projects will open next year. If so, most Dallas County shoppers won't have to drive much farther than 10 miles to get to a major outlet center.


"About 400,000 cars a day travel within one-quarter mile of this site," he said. "That's great visibility, and we're accessible to both Dallas and Fort Worth. That's the best of both worlds."

In the heyday of outlet malls in the early 1990s, developers used a minimalist design to signal to shoppers that bargains awaited like the lines of shops facing a huge parking lot at Tanger Outlets in Terrell.


Shopper-friendly

Today's outlet malls are more upscale and have more pedestrian-friendly layouts, like the town square-style shopping centers that are replacing regular indoor malls.

"We're trying to add aesthetics that new full-price counterparts are building," said Nicholas King, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Baltimore-based Prime Retail.

"If you have more amenities, shoppers stay longer and spend more money."


Prime Retail
Prime Outlets Grand Prairie will have 485,000 square feet of retail space. Prime Outlets in Grand Prairie will be similar to the redevelopment the company completed in 2005 in San Marcos, Texas, one of the top-performing outlet centers in the nation.

Icon's project in Farmers Branch, the Shops at Mercer Crossing, also is billing itself as upscale, with Mediterranean-inspired buildings on a lake.

Outlet malls are now seen as a valuable component of larger, mixed-use projects, said Linda Humphers, editor-in-chief of Value Retail News , a trade publication for the outlet industry.

"That's part of the trend of moving closer into cities; they're adding residential and office," she said.


Icon Partners
The Shops at Mercer Crossing will have Mediterranean-inspired buildings on a lake. Icon senior partner Dan Robinowitz said the Shops at Mercer Crossing will be the first phase of a project that will also have apartments, office space and a hotel.

Outlet malls also are getting bigger.

The average size of a new center in the early 1990s was 125,000 square feet.

Tanger Outlets in Irving will be about 380,000 square feet, and Prime Outlets in Grand Prairie will be 485,000 square feet.


Driving development

Cities see these projects as economic development opportunities. Mr. King said Prime Outlets will bring nearly 2,000 jobs to Grand Prairie.

Irving Mayor Herbert Gears said Tanger Outlets is the first major project of the city's 385-acre Texas Stadium Redevelopment Area, owned by the city and the University of Dallas.

Irving isn't waiting until 2009 to substitute tax revenue from the Dallas Cowboys when the team abandons the facility for new digs in Arlington.

In past decades, retailers and wholesalers agreed that discounted products had to be sold far from urban centers, and specific brands and products couldn't be advertised.

That resulted in the word-of-mouth popularity of distant outlet malls at otherwise desolate interstate interchanges.

But those industry rules have become less of an issue. Today, brands such as Kate Spade and Ralph Lauren operate stores in a full-price mall down the corridor from their customers Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. Then they meet again at the outlet mall, with Last Call and Off 5th stores next to the Polo outlet and Kate Spade clearance store.

Technology and upgraded distribution systems have removed the risk of a designer handbag being in both a full-price store and off-price outlet on the same day.


Consolidated industry

Those changes also contributed to a consolidation in the outlet industry.

The International Council of Shopping Centers counted 543 such centers nationwide in 1995. That number fell to 225 in 2004-05, the last time the council took a tally.

Today, Tanger, Icon and Prime Retail operate most of the outlet centers in the U.S., Mr. King said.

And a resurgence appears to be under way. Tanger is opening two more urban centers this year on New York's Long Island and south of Pittsburgh. And Prime Retail plans to add 1.5 million square feet between now and 2010, Mr. King said.

Still appealing

Developers say they aren't worried about the slowing economy or higher gas prices.

"What we've seen from higher gas prices is shoppers coming with more friends in the car and staying longer," Mr. Tanger said.

Overall sales have been flat to up in the low-single digits in the last year, he said. But everything works out.

"Outlet shopping is unique," he said. "In good times people like bargains, and in not-so-good times, people need bargains."




#2 johnfwd

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Posted 07 October 2016 - 06:55 AM

Are these malls actually more economical in terms of price bargains?  Or is this just hype to attract customers to these large extravaganzas like in latter days when the traditional malls were popular?






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