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Home goods retailers find new homes in outlet centers

Al Urbanski
West Elm can be found in Tanger Lancaster, Riverhead, and San Marcos.

Post-COVID, outlet centers aren’t just about apparel and footwear anymore.

Some 18 months ago, Tanger Outlets’ leasing department laid out a strategy to put high-level home goods and furniture brands in many of their centers, and it has paid off quickly and big.

The nation’s largest outlet center chain has created long-term channel partnerships with Williams Sonoma, Crate & Barrel, and Le Creuset. Other home goods chains are taking up residence in select centers such as Tanger San Marcos and Tanger Riverhead include Pottery Barn, RH, and Serena & Lily.

“A lot of our centers are in tourism locations in the Southeast, but they’re also places where people live, work, and dine,” said Justin Stein, Tanger’s executive VP of leasing. “After COVID hit, a lot of people with secondary residences in these communities made them their primary residences. So we set out on a diversification strategy and the number of home goods retailers in our centers has skyrocketed over the past several months.”

Casper, Crate & Barrel, and Pottery Barn opened at the Riverhead center in Long Island. RH, Purple Mattress, and DWR have taken space at the San Marcos Tanger Outlets in Texas. And the high-end Le Creuset cookware brand is fanning out to a dozen Tanger locations that include Columbus, Hilton Head, Fort Worth, and National Harbor.

Stein, a 10-year Simon Premium Outlet leasing executive who followed Stephen Yalof to Tanger when he took over as CEO there, said the presence of home goods brands have shown their influence as tenants in Tanger parking lots.

“When Serena & Lily opened at Hilton Head, we saw license plates from the Carolinas and Georgia in the lots, some of which had U-Haul trailers attached to them,” Stein said. “They had to close the store down for a day to get more merchandise in.”

The Tanger leasing team expects many more home goods brands to take up residences in outlets that the company’s analytics department helps them choose based on local market demographics. Stein noted that, following their appearance at the ICSC Las Vegas show in May, the Tanger leasing team received more than 20 open-to-buys from top home goods chains.

“We’re constantly listening to our consumers and they ask for more diversification in our tenant roster,” he said. “Pre-COVID, 80% of our tenants were apparel and footwear. In two years, that will decline to 75% as home goods brands and restaurant and entertainment chains like Texas Roadhouse and Dave & Busters eat into the apparel and footwear square footage.”

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