The Journal Record: New Owners Update OKC Outlets, More Changes Planned

November 10, 2017

OKLAHOMA CITY – Outlet Resource Group Principal Lisa Wagner said the OKC Outlets fit perfectly into the company’s portfolio. It looks for properties that are performing well and have a high occupancy rate.

The 394,000-square foot OKC Outlets off Interstate 40 at Council Road in west Oklahoma City are 90 percent occupied, she said. The company purchased the center in July for $130 million.

“We know from being in the industry that (the former owners) do a great job of leasing the center and putting together a good tenant mix,” she said.

She said the opportunity to purchase the property came up through some connections in the outlet industry. It’s a small market, with only about 200 centers nationwide. But with no nearby competition, the OKC Outlets are a good performer and would likely stay that way.

Wagner said the company spent millions of dollars updating the center with new paint and will soon construct additional signage. The Wi-Fi was improved so that it worked throughout the center.

Outlet Resource Group has other changes planned, she said. A locally based coffee shop will move in soon, as well as a national brand, she said. The new retailer will be announced closer to Christmas.

The coffee shop was a needed addition, she said, because based on retail research, people still want places to gather.

“We’re trying to not be haphazard in our approach and just throw things in there, but be very deliberate,” she said. “We want to make it a great experience.”

Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau President Mike Carrier said the outlets are a popular destination for tourists. He said people from the Texas Panhandle and southern Kansas make trips specifically to the shops.

He said the outlets are also an attraction that can be listed when he and his staff are recruiting conventions or other events.

“As people are looking at amenities (for conferences), Oklahoma City certainly has a variety of different things,” he said. “Shopping is high on the list of priorities.”

When a group from New Zealand came to visit the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Steven Adams, they spent a few hours at the OKC Outlets.

Nationwide, outlet malls have seen a decline in visitation compared to 2016, according to a Cowen & Co. report. From September 2016 to September 2017, outlet mall visitation decreased 23 percent, where traditional shopping malls saw only a 14-percent drop.

But millennial women, aged 18 to 34 years old, increased their outlet mall visitation in the same time period by 0.8 percent, while their visits to traditional malls dropped 6 percent. Men in the same age group decreased their visits to both retail types by 22 percent. In 2016, men frequently visited outlet malls, with a 44-percent increase in trips during the summer, according to Cowen.

But the researchers said in their 2017 report that the slowing demand for athletic apparel may be a factor in why men have decreased their visits to outlet malls. Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas are tenants at outlet malls.

In June, Cowen interviewed Tanger Factory Outlets Centers CEO Steven Tanger about the staying power of outlet centers. He said centers allow four generations to shop together, from baby boomers to Generation Z.

Wagner said millennials grew up shopping at outlet centers and they love it.

“Millennials are coming on strong as our most frequent shoppers,” she said.