BLACKWOOD, N.J. — Since its debut two years ago, Gloucester Premium Outlets has been a hit. It became a major draw for South Jersey and Philadelphia-area residents seeking name-brand items at discount prices, and has been a boon for local tax collectors.
Exit 7B, along Route 42 South, became synonymous with the outdoor shopping venue because taking that exit puts you almost in the outlets’ parking lot.
But the venue also represents a rare bright spot in retail: Outdoor outlet malls are doing well nationally just as many indoor malls are dying. The outlet centers, which began in the 1980s, now number 200 in the United States, representing nearly $50 billion in market value, according to research firm Green Street Advisors L.L.C. Simon Property Group and Tanger control 75 percent of the market.
One factor helping outlet malls is that they typically lack department stores, which are bearing the brunt of retail’s closures. The promise of discount prices (if not always the reality) and the open air locale at outlet malls are also drawing shoppers.
Gloucester’s outlets fit the trend. “Sales at the center have shown a double-digit increase over the previous year, and this success has enabled us to add impact retailers such as Michael Kors and Brooks Brothers,” said Peter Zekan, Gloucester outlets’ general manager. “Customers are traveling greater distances to come shop with us because of our range of brands and the extraordinary savings we offer.”