An outlet store or factory outlet or "Best Saving Outlet" is a retail store in which manufacturers sell their stock directly to the public through their own branded stores. The stores can be brick and mortar or online. Traditionally, a factory outlet was a store, attached to a factory or warehouse. Often these stores are grouped together in outlet malls. The invention of the retail outlet store is often credited to Harold Alfond, founder of the Dexter Shoe Company.
Since its origination, outlets have seen variation in project size and an industry reorganization in the early 1990s which resulted in many smaller outlets going dark. As newer outlets continue their popularity, clear differences between new well designed centers and traditional retail centers is becoming harder and harder to differentiate.
An outlet mall (or outlet centre) is a type of shopping mall,in which manufacturers sell their products directly to the public through their own branded stores. Clothing, sporting goods, electrical products, cosmetics, and toys are among the types of items sold at outlet malls.
Outlet malls first appeared in the United States as a development of the traditional factory outlet: a store attached to a factory or warehouse. An outlet mall places several such outlets under one roof in a convenient location, usually an "out-of-town" site. The out-of-town site minimizes overhead costs. And they may be legally necessary as conventional retailers may have contractual restrictions on the manufacturer on the location of the factory outlets so as to minimize competition with the traditional retailer. Therefore, factory outlets are usually located some distance from major cities.
Outlet malls have since spread to the European Union and to many other parts of the world. During the early 1990s, UK company McArthur Glen opened some of the earliest outlet malls in the UK (Cheshire Oaks) and France (Troyes) in 1995, and since 2000s Italy (Alessandria, Rome and Florence) and Portugal (Lisbon). In Europe they are more commonly referred to as Designer Outlets.
The expansion of outlet malls has reached Asia with Chelsea Premium Outlets in at least 4 Japanese and 1 Korean location. China and Hong Kong are catching up. Hong Kong's 1st outlet mall, Citygate Outlets, is located in Tung Chung, Lantau.
Recently, most of this kind stores are published online.