Ecostra market survey

Outlet center in Europe – an overview

In Germany, the potential for outlet centres (here: Wertheim Village) is far from exhausted.
imago images / Hannelore Förster
In Germany, the potential for outlet centres (here: Wertheim Village) is far from exhausted.

In a recent survey, research institute Ecostra provides information on the status of outlet centres in European countries. In addition to location, operators and developers, the study lists gross leasable area, retail sales area and current development plans. The overview covers 31 countries.

While Factory Outlets and Designer Outlet Centers are almost universally distributed in the USA, the level of development in Europe is very different. For example, according to Ecostra's market researchers, the British market is similarly saturated as the US market, which is leading to a market shakeout.

The situation on the European continent is different: In Germany, for example, there are only very few outlet centers in relation to the size of this national market, due to the extremely restrictive building permit procedures compared to the rest of Europe. "However, there is little doubt that this will change in the medium-term perspective, at least. The kind of emotional argument that often used to take place until just a few years ago has now given way to a much more factual discussion on the advantages and disadvantages of establishing an Outlet Centre," say the Wiesbaden market researchers.

The situation in Italy is different again: "Italy has developed rapidly in recent years, and it is difficult to find "white spots" on the map there. The same applies to Switzerland and Austria," reports Ecostra.

In the Central and Eastern European countries (CEE), development picked up speed but slowed down again as a result of the credit crunch. So there are still considerable differences in the development and number of outlet centres in the European countries.

The complete study is available free of charge as a pdf-download on the Ecostra website:

Ecostra definition: Outlet centre
Outlet centres are an agglomeration of many outlet store units within a coordinatively planned or spatially connected building complex with more than 5,000 sq m of sales area (= approx. 6,000 sq m GLA) and with more than 20 outlet stores. There, brand manufacturers and vertically integrated retailers sell past seasons, factory seconds, excess stock, etc. directly to the consumer without using the retail trade as an (intermediate) distribution channel. All products are sold at a discount of at least 25 percent on the original street sales price, with dual pricing ("High Street Price" / "Outlet Price") regulated by the leasing agreement. The marketing targets a supraregional area, and above all customers from far away are addressed. The coordination, organisation and marketing of an outlet centre is handled by a centre management.