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  • Linda Williams

The Difference Between Outlet Malls Vs Lifestyle Center

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

Outlet Malls

We all enjoy shopping, and chances are you take most of your shopping from a mall or lifestyle center. There is no clear demarcation of what an outlet mall is and what a lifestyle center is in the public's eyes, but there is more to the discussion than what meets the eye.

When planning a retail development project, it's critical to understand the fundamental differences between outlet malls and lifestyle centers. At Permit Studio, we can guide you through the various permitting requirements related to these two retail models, helping you to align your project with your business goals. Outlet malls tend to focus on offering brand name or designer goods at discounted prices, often in a more traditional and enclosed space. On the other hand, lifestyle centers are designed to mimic urban street shopping, featuring a range of retail stores, entertainment venues, and dining options in an open-air, pedestrian-friendly environment. The regulatory aspects of obtaining Building Permits in Chicago or elsewhere for these two types of centers can vary greatly, which is where our Permit Expediter services come into play.

At Permit Studio, we understand that every retail development project is unique, each with its own set of challenges and requirements. Whether it's an outlet mall with multiple brand outlets or a lifestyle center with mixed-use spaces, our expert Permit Expediting Services team will navigate you through the complexities of the permitting process. Our services include not just facilitating your Chicago Building Permits, but also offering comprehensive Permit Management solutions to ensure a smooth and timely permit approval process.

Let's dive deep so you can tell the difference between these two physical shopping centers.

Outlet malls are one of the easiest retail spaces to identify. They are often closed retail spaces that let you do your shopping under one roof. The store usually has movie theaters, restaurants, department stores, and movie theatres. Malls are generally large buildings starting at 400,000 square feet, and there is virtually no limit to how far they can go.

Sometimes, the goods don't have to be of a particular brand. If the goods are being sold at a reduced price and the location of the group of stores is outside the city, it is Outlet Mall. Let me warn you that not all products are at a discounted price. Wondering what the term 'outlet' is emphasizing on? Outlet here means that either the goods are purchased from a wholesaler, or the manufacturer owns the store.

Do you know when this idea of Outlet Malls originated? It was during the 1920s, after World War II when people started selling outside the city. Many stores opened in one bigger store to ease people's shopping at a single spot. They are also known as Factory Outlet and Retail Outlet. These spaces don't have additional facilities like food courts and gaming zones.

Outlet malls are often located outside the city or town in suburban areas as the areas have sufficient space to hold the mall and the parking area and have less traffic compared to the city or city center. There are a lot of stores within the mall that sell goods and products at discounted rates as the products are bought from sourced from large manufacturers.

Outlet malls are more than places for doing more than shopping and are often seen as a center where people can have fun as they can go to the mall to watch movies, play games, and generally have firms. The spaces are designed to maximize the time someone spends by having as many solutions under one roof.

A commercial place where the people can experience the combined benefits of a shopping mall and leisure amenities. They emerged in the 1990s and are sometimes called "boutique malls." These places are often located in prosperous suburban areas. So next time when you go to a mall where you can both shop and play, you must know that you have come to a Lifestyle Center. Lifestyle centers are designed to maximize activities people can do while on a shopping spree.

Lifestyle centers combine the features of a shopping mall or commercial developments with shopping functions and leisure activities. The lifestyle center has continued to grow over the years and is the one-stop shop people visit and buy goods at discounted prices. The centers are typically more minor compared to outlet malls which require more space. Renting at lifestyle malls is a bit expensive despite the less space the centers occupy. The rent can range to up to $500 per square feet compressed to $330 for the rent required at outlet malls.

Since lifestyle centers are open, you can easily move from one trader to the next. They also save on heating and cooling and make it easier for customers to access the services in the building. Comparing the lifestyle center and mall, you feel that they are just outlet malls turned inside out. The storefronts in the lifestyle centre in the mall often face each other across landscaped pedestrian crossings or low-traffic roads.

The kind of goods sold in lifestyle centres vary significantly compared to outlet malls. While malls may have almost all shops and businesses, lifestyle centres have high-demand shops such as upscale apparel shops, gift shops, and boutiques. The fast-selling goods are stocked in the lifestyle centre as they are mainly located in the busiest side of the city to maximize the customer and increase sales.

Leisure activities in the lifestyle centres are by far the biggest draw-in for the lifestyle centres. Big crowd flock in to do some light shopping after having a day at the lifestyle centres. The centres are often crowded as the lifestyle centres are located at the city centres.

Lifestyle centers are mainly built as appendages to a supermarket or drugstore as anchor tenants. They do an excellent function of providing convenience goods to the drugstore customer for the day-to-day goods that a customer may require but not stocked in the supermarket.

Difference between Outlet Malls and Lifestyle Centers

The lifestyle centers lie on the upper end of commercial development, whereas the outlet malls are on the lower end. But this is not the only difference. From the experience of permit expediting services for many years, we are pointing out the following differences:

  1. Function

As mentioned before during the explanation of what outlet malls are, it is a place where people get products at a low price and are consumer-friendly. Multiple brands may be stocked in the shopping malls bringing service closer to the community. One of the purposes of having such a place was to sell damaged and outdated products. But in recent times, these places have evolved and become the hotspot of crazy shoppers who like wearing branded clothes but want to save some bucks for their favorite latte from Starbucks.

The situation is not the same inside a Lifestyle Center. Here, the seller aims to sell quality products at retail prices. So, if you want quality products at discounted rates, visit these stores during Christmas or New Year! Though the same product would cost you relatively higher at Lifestyle Centers, people visit here more because of the other facilities available within the same block-like grabbing your latte from Starbucks or your favorite hamburger from some different store from the food court. Many people visit this place just for amusement and playing those fantastic video games and billiards.

Let us look at an example and see which of them make more sales. Assume that there are 50 jackets of a well-known brand priced at $100 each in the Lifestyle Center, and the same coat is priced at $50 each at the Outlet Mall and has 100 pieces. Both the places would do equally well as one of them has good demand, and the other has a good sales volume.

  1. Quality of the goods

This is another significant difference between Outlet Mall and Lifestyle Center. As mentioned before, most of the goods sold in the outlet mall are outdated and sometimes defective. Sometimes, manufacturers sell products made using low-quality material to the outlet malls than those sold at the lifestyle centers—thinking about why this is done? A simple answer: to increase awareness among people, eventually increasing sales in the long term.

Another problem with the quality of products sold at Outlet Malls is that gently used items or products with irregularities are also sold here. Though these are not very visible, they can't be sold at Lifestyle centers. This shouldn't stop you from buying from an Outlet mall because these incidents don't occur often, and also you can be extra cautious the next time while shopping from there.

  1. Location

Outlet malls are located in a less populated area which is entirely away from the central city. This happens because the land cost at these places is much less than those in the major city. As permit specialists, we know the value of land very well. Lifestyle Centers stand victorious in this war of outlet malls vs. lifestyle centers when it comes to location because they are located in affluent suburbs of the city.

There is another reason why lifestyle centers are located in the populous area. However, the rates are higher here: they want to maintain a reasonable distance from the discounted outlet malls to freely sell the same products at their regular prices. Witty, aren't they?

  1. Design

If you are a reasonable observer, you would already know the difference in designs of outlet malls and lifestyle centers because by now, you would have already listed a lot of names that follow in each of these categories. To list a few:

● Outlet malls have a simple design like a Decathlon Store, whereas a lifestyle center is very lavishly built. It has fountains, escalators, fancy lifts, etc. this is what makes a lifestyle center more attractive and aesthetically pleasing.

● Outlet malls are very retail-specific, meaning they usually don't sell products from different brands together. In lifestyle centers, products from various brands are available, giving a variety of options to the shoppers.

● Lifestyle centers have restaurants, gyms, movie theatres, and much more. But it is difficult to find an outlet mall with one or two of these facilities but, you can if you are lucky enough.

● While outlet malls are situated away from the city, usually close to busy highways, the lifestyle centers are, as we already know, located in a populated area where there is always a crowd of people inside and around it.

● Experienced the difficulty of finding a place to park your car while venturing to your favorite outlet malls? It is unavoidable because it is what it is. This is not the issue you may face at a lifestyle center because they have a vast area for parking.

● The area in which outlet malls are located has a lot of signage. This is not the case with the lifestyle centers because it has only the standard signage.

There are lots of benefits and conveniences of outlet malls and shopping malls in life. Malls serve a central purpose to the community, while lifestyle centers are there to provide the convenience goods that one may need promptly. They are the heart of the community and hold an integral role in entertainment, shopping and provide a social space.

Our company can help you construct a shopping mall or outlet center that is tailored to meet the community's needs. As a construction permit expeditor, we can give permit solutions for all types of issues you may face throughout the process. The customers at the outlet malls sell products at discounted rates which means they are price-conscious. They are very well aware of the quality of the products sold here and are fine with that. Bargaining is a usual scene at these places.

On the other hand, people who are financially better and prioritize quality over quantity are those who visit lifestyle centers. One of these centers' significant sources of income is their food courts and gaming zone, which brings in a lot of revenue.

As to permit expediters, we have a long history of experience with a multitude of shopping centers, and we make it a point. Our primary focus is to approach each one differently.

In summary, tackling the complexities of building permits and permit expediting is a breeze with Permit Studio. We stand as a reliable ally in your construction journey, equipped with the necessary expertise to help you navigate through the intricate permit approval processes in Chicago seamlessly.

Explore our comprehensive range of services on our homepage to understand how we can assist in making your building project a success. If you're ready to overcome the challenges associated with obtaining building permits in Chicago, do not hesitate to contact us directly. At Permit Studio, we're dedicated to turning your vision into a constructible reality. Let's begin this journey together.

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