Outlet retailing has proven itself to be a “robust and compelling investment choice” in 2023, the managing director of retail outlet specialist Realm has said.
Dan Mason said the turnover lease model often employed in outlet centres allows owners and operators to “adapt swiftly to evolving consumer preferences and harness the best of innovative operational practices”.
He continued: “This was a year that saw many brands fine-tune their offer, right-size their spaces and enhance their customer experience, as outlets have proven their value in the omnichannel retail strategy. As we move into 2024, we expect brands to continue to evolve the “flagship outlet experience” – elevating their visual merchandising and in-store aesthetics and creatively working with concessions and pop ups – to meet rising consumer expectations.
“In 2024, as consumer confidence grows steadily, we’re optimistic about the enduring attraction of outlets that offer quality and value while engaging and surprising shoppers with the ‘full price’ experience that so many brands are successfully re-creating in their outlet stores. This balance of flexibility and an elevated experience will influence new outlet schemes, as well as redevelopment and asset management activity both in the UK and Europe over the coming year.”
These sentiments were echoed by Simon Tothill, property and development director of Robert Hitchins, a regional property firm which is currently on site with phase one of the 185,000 sq ft Cotswold Designer Outlet in Tewkesbury.
He said: “We’re confident in the resilience and enduring appeal of the outlet retailing offer; in these times of economic uncertainty shoppers seek out quality and value to maintain a desired lifestyle for less, while looking for the excitement of discovering unexpected treasures. Heading into 2024, we’re expecting consumer behaviour to continue to evolve as economic confidence grows, and this will play a significant role in how brands prioritise outlet into their multichannel retail strategies.”
Construction for the Cotswold Designer Outlet commenced in November, with the opening set for spring 2025.
Tothill added: “With a little over a year to go until the phase one opening of Cotswolds Designer Outlet – one of the few new outlet schemes on the horizon – we’re meeting a growing demand for retail tourism and the ‘full day out’ experience in a unique, underserved location. Our design and leasing strategy is focused on delivering a premium feel and enhanced guest experience with flexibility for brands to optimise their offer and customer engagement.”
Realm is leasing the scheme and will be the asset and property managers upon completion.