It seems as the economy continues to flounder, shoppers are heading to outlet malls in droves. In an analysis of foot traffic during Black Friday weekend 2009 compared to 2008, foot traffic at all U.S. retail establishments fell 19.3% while traffic at the outlet centers owned by Prime Retail was up 8.3% (Misonzhnik, 2009). Chelsea Property Group, owned by Simon Property Group, reported an net operating income (NOI) increase of 7.7% for its outlets in 2009 over 2008 (Misonzhnik).
Although shoppers, faced with a decline in discretionary income, are cutting back spending, many instead are turning to the better deals perceived to be offered by outlet stores.
The Bay Area has a number of outlet malls within a two hour drive, including the popular Gilroy Premium Outlets and Vacaville Premium Outlets, both owned by Chelsea Property Group. The Great Mall, with nearly 200 stores, is both convenient and loaded with bargains. Smaller outlet malls, like Napa Premium Outlets and Petaluma Village Premium Outlets, are still worth the drive.
Sacramento has the Folsom Premium Outlets, which is a personal favorite of mine. I'd swear people there won't buy long-sleeved shirts due to the long summers. For me, it's a bonanza of selection.
The Central Valley has the Tracy Outlets, but I'm no longer impressed with its selection.
Although the retail industry is suffering a serious downtown that continues unabated, the shining star for shoppers is the nearest outlet mall.
Misonzhnik, E. (2000), Room to Grow (1/29). Retail Traffic. Retrieved February 04, 2009 from: http://retailtrafficmag.com/management/propmgmt/outlet-center-growth-0129/