VRN contributing writer Marie Driscoll attended a selection of panel discussions at ICSC’s 2013 RECon, held May 19-22 in Las Vegas. She focused on the sessions of high interest to the outlet sector, including retail expansion strategies, tax reform, competing and joining forces with ecommerce, and, of course, the future of retail in Canada. Recaps of those sessions follow.
Outlets aren’t for sissies. With its CAM charges, fat leases, site fights, and intense marketing, outlet retailing is a unique business model.
ON MONDAY AFTERNOON at RECon a crowd gathered to take in “The Outlet Meme: 25 Things You Need to Know about Outlet Retailing.” VRN’s editor-in-chief Linda Humphers moderated a panel of outlet heavyweights who delivered straight-from-the-shoulder advice to newcomers, developers, retailers, marketers and center managers interested in the outlet distribution channel.
The panel consisted of Lisa Wagner and Dan Cochran, both partners at EWB Development; Jeffrey Montang, VP-real estate at AM Retail Group (Wilsons Leather, Andrew Marc, Calvin Klein Performance and Vilebrequin); Charlie Devine, who handles leasing for Ascena Retail Group (Dressbarn, Maurices and Justice’s 3,000 stores) and David Ober, president of Global Outlet Management.
The panel addressed newcomers with a heads-up that outlet retailing is a hands-on business. “An outlet center is not a glorified community center,” David Ober said. “It is an operating business that needs a lot of focus and staff on site. Marketing spend at outlets is $3 more per square foot on average than at regional malls and $10 more than at European outlets. Given the long distances shoppers travel to outlets, a more focused and deeper message is required.” Lisa Wagner added that “Outlets need to be intensely marketed – unlike a traditional neighborhood center or a mall – to create a base of loyal shoppers and to continually attract new customers. A tourist-driven center needs constant replenishment of the customer base.”