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
stores. Other stores in outlet malls are operated by retailers selling returned goods and discontinued products, often at heavily reduced prices. 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, selling surplus stock at discounted prices. 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 minimises 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 minimise competition with the traditional retailer. Therefore, factory outlets are usually located at least 20 kilometers outside of major cities, and consumers must account for gasoline costs and driving time when calculating their net savings.
Outlet malls have since spread to the European Union and to many other parts of the world. During the early 2000s, the U.K. company McArthurGlen opened the first outlet malls in Italy (Milan and Rome) and Portugal (Lisbon).