Outlet centers continue to buck recession across Europe (EUR)

Outlet center management across Europe report their centers are trading above expectations and above previous year's figures. The announcements were made at the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) European Factory Outlet Conference, held for the first time this year in Milan, which has now grown to be the largest conference for the outlet center industry in the world.

Value Retail's Group Senior Leasing & Commercialisation Director Peter Nobel said: "We see this recession as being the biggest test of the long-accepted theory that outlet centers trade counter cyclically."

Neil Thompson, Chief Executive of Fashion House centres in Poland said: "Our centers are trading above 2008 and a footfall comparison between them and the country's top 20 shopping centers also show a rise in outlet centre turnover above full price centers."

It's not just footfall that's rising, it's also an increase in individual spend of shoppers. Value Retail, Fashion House Development and Palmanova Outlet Village, all reported not only increased footfall, but also a higher increase in sales indicating that individual shoppers are purchasing more.

Luigi Maurizio Villa, Retail Operations Director at Palmanova Outlet Village in Italy added: "At Palmanova, more customers are travelling from Slovenia and Croatia. This is a good sign."

Conference delegates heard speakers from luxury brands and retailers across Europe talk on their brand strategies for growth. Marketing experts spoke on how strong marketing is the fuel that drives an outlet center's success, and looked at how to maximize marketing through new social media outlets such as Twitter.

According to marketing expert Deborah Owen-Ellis Clark, of The Bee Group: "Marketeers must engage with their customers and provide a compelling reason to visit. It isn't just about pretty images or visual noise anymore."

The ICSC European Factory Outlet Conference is co-sponsored by ICSC's International Outlet Journal, which covers outlet retailing throughout the world. IOJ Editor in Chief, Linda Humphers, said: "Reports from some of the most senior outlet centre management in Europe clearly indicate that the recession hasn't stopped people shopping, but they do demand the best quality they can afford. Outlets really are still the bright face of retail."

Source: Nicky Godding Communications

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