In a recent survey of outlet shoppers, 87% said the savings they received at outlet stores were worth the travel time and 93% planned to shop there again.
The in-person survey of 8,830 outlet shoppers at 88 centers in 39 states, conducted May 15 to 17, was done by two trade organizations-the Developers of Outlet Centers, New York, and the Manufacturers Idea Exchange, Clearwater, Fla.
It was designed to examine shoppers' perception of and satisfaction with discounts found on merchandise at outlet centers. The margin of error was 1 percentage point.
"We discovered that the outlet industry meets or exceeds the savings expectations for a vast majority of shoppers," said a Developers of Outlet Centers representative. "We also found that overall customer satisfaction with the outlet shopping experience was exceptionally high."
For the majority of first-time outlet shoppers, 79%, and repeat shoppers, 90%, the savings were worth the trip. Outlets are typically about 30 miles from major cities.
"Those numbers don't surprise me," said Dave Speights, editor of American Marketplace. "Consumers are after the highest possible quality at the lowest possible price. They no longer equate value with high price."
"Customers know when they go to outlet centers they will find good pricing," said Liz Tahir, retail consultant and president of Liz Tahir & Associates, New Orleans.
Of overall shoppers, 84% thought prices met or exceeded their expectations and 59% estimated savings of 25% or more.
Because outlet centers are becoming more like traditional retail stores-carrying in-season merchandise, remodeling and moving closer to big cities-traditional retailers must keep their sights on what outlet shopping is about, Ms. Tahir said.
Outlet shopping, which took off in the 1980s, now represents less than 2% of total non-auto retail sales. Even so, that comes to about $10 billion in sales a year, Value Retail News reported.