For outlet centers, Florida truly is the Magic Kingdom. With the largest tourist destination in the world and an average of 1,000 people moving here daily, there is no shortage of retail customers.
“There's always going to be an attraction to Florida,” says Lisa Getty, corporate marketing director at Miromar Development.
Andy Groveman, president of the Belz Factory Outlet Division, says 60 to 70 percent of his company's outlet business comes from tourists, depending on the time of year. Belz operates three outlet centers in Florida, including the new 750,000-square-foot Festival Bay at International Drive.
“There is no question that outlet sales have increased as the economy has gotten better,” says Groveman.
Getty says traffic at Miromar's Outlet Center in Estero has jumped 12 to 15 percent since last year.
The leap was helped by the increasing stylishness of outlet malls. After hitting a popularity high in the 1980s and early 1990s, outlet centers suffered as consumers turned their attention to big boxers such as TJ Maxx and Target. “Outlet centers are coming back because people realize there is more savings and selection buying from the manufacturer,” says Getty.