Outlet Stores Make Their Way Into Regular Malls

by Sapna Maheshwari

Here’s how much Americans love outlet shopping: “Factory stores” are now making their way from the side of interstate highways into good old-fashioned shopping malls. Clothing chain Express has converted three regular mall stores into “Express Factory Outlets” in the past year, with a fourth on the way. The transformed stores, operating alongside more typical mall fare like Macy’s, Auntie Anne’s, and Sephora, have seen business surge, and Express is in talks with other mall landlords for additional conversions. Consumers, it appears, aren’t surprised to see an outlet store away from an outlet mall, nor are they repelled by Express’ cheaper “made-for-outlet” merchandise. Lower prices on clothes have swept through malls, with J.Crew chief Mickey Drexler last week bemoaning the “rampant discounting” throughout the industry. Yesterday, J.Crew cut 175 jobs, mainly at its headquarters, as part of a larger plan to trim costs amid a prolonged sales slump.

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