Malls moving to fringes to find new customers

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Malls moving to fringes to find new customers

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Lotte Outlet in Gwanggyo. Provided by the company

Large outlet malls outside crowded Seoul are offering cheaper prices to attract consumers.

Two new stores -- Lotte Outlets and E-Mart by Shinsegae -- are vying to attract more customers to Gwanggyo New City in Gyeonggi with a different approach to shopping.

The stocks and arrangement of products has been tailored to suit people in their 30s and 40s as the area is known to have a heavy proportion of young couples.

As well as other outlet malls focused on clothes and fashion items at discounted prices, Lotte Outlets that open today will have food and beverage areas three times larger than existing outlet malls.

The mall also has an LG Electronics store on the first floor, which is rare for outlet malls which normally center around apparel brands and push consumer electronics stores and food shops to less crowded areas.

Lotte Outlets in Gwanggyo also has cultural and educational facilities for children. The facilities include a theme park, an English Book Cafe and toy shops.

“Since families often look around malls with their kids, such facilities will help parents do shopping more easily,” said a representative of Lotte Department Store that runs Lotte Outlets.

However, the new approach doesn’t mean the outlet mall will be ignoring its core strength. More than 260 brands are at the mall, including Tommy Hilfiger and sports brands such as Adidas and Nike. Lotte said that customers get up to 40 percent off offered by the brands.

The opening reflects Lotte’s shift towards outlet malls as department stores suffer sluggish sales.

Once-loyal customers of major department stores -- Lotte, Hyundai and Shinsegae -- have been lured away by the promise of lower prices at outlet malls where off-season clothes are cheaper.

Lotte, Shinsegae and Hyundai all have outlet malls under construction or in the planning stages. They are looking to Gyeonggi because of its relatively cheap real estate as well as the region guarantees large demographics with less competition than Seoul.

Shinsegae’s E-Mart, the top discount supermarket chain, also opened a new branch in Gwangyo on Thursday. One of the noticeable features of the branch is a section called “The Beauty” where 13 popular cosmetic brands are assembled and customers can test beauty products of The Face Shop and Nature Republic.


BY PARK EUN-JEE [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]

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