Outlet Malls vs Lifestyle Centers

If you’re not a stranger to shopping, then you have likely visited both an outlet mall and a lifestyle center. Both have similar characteristics – they’re shopping centers with lots of retailers in one location – but what makes them different? Of course, you are probably already aware that outlet malls offer cheaper priced goods, but do you know how they differ from a development standpoint? As experts in the permitting field, we’ve handled permits for many categories of shopping centers. Through our experience, we’ve highlighted a list of three major differences between outlet malls and lifestyle centers.


The clientele at shopping centers drastically affects the way that the architects will design the center. Developers typically pay attention to who will be going to the stores to inform them on how they’re going to be laid out.

Outlet malls allow customers to access clothing and other goods at a reduced price. Therefore, their clientele typically consists of price-conscious people seeking a bargain. These customers usually know that the quality of the products at outlet stores may be reduced from what would be offered in the regular store – and they’re okay with that.

Lifestyle centers, on the other hand, are usually tailored to more high-end shoppers. As we referenced in another blog, lifestyle centers are defined by the ICSC as “upscale national-chain specialty stores…” They are typically frequented by customers looking for high-quality items, not expecting a large discount unless there is an occasional sale.


At an outlet mall, you will likely see retailers like Gap, Ann Taylor, Polo Ralph Lauren, Under Armour, Nike, and more. However, you probably won’t see very many sit-down restaurants and you won’t see a fitness center or entertainment such as movie theaters. That’s because the tenants at outlet malls are more retail-specific whereas lifestyle centers offer a more diverse selection of tenants.

As an example, when we coordinated the permitting process on the Century City Mall, a lifestyle center located in Los Angeles, CA, our project focused on many different types of tenants: retail stores, restaurants, salons/spas, fitness centers, health facilities, banks, grocery stores, car dealerships, and entertainment facilities. As you can see, the tenants did not only pertain to retail alone – lifestyle centers rather cater to a live, work, and play environment and mentality.


Outlet malls are designed drastically different than lifestyle centers due to their different tenants and clientele. We’ve outlined these differences in the chart below:

Outlet Malls

Lifestyle Centers

Simplistic design – basic core and shell with minimal landscaping Complex design – often multiple levels, buildings of varying height, high-end landscaping, fountains, patio areas
Retail-specific, fast-casual dining High-end retailers, sit-down restaurants, fitness centers, movie theaters, salons, and more
Typically placed closer to a highly visible area such as a busy highway or arterial road; lots of signage Often in high-end real estate areas; standard signage
Typically have retail-standard parking requirements Typically have higher parking requirements


These different types of shopping centers have different design needs and requirements. This can have major effects the permitting process and application requirements. As permit expediters, we have experience with a multitude of shopping centers and make sure to approach each one differently.

About Us: Permit Advisors Inc is a nationwide permit expediting, entitlement, and consulting firm based out of Beverly Hills, CA. We have established relationships with municipalities nation-wide and implement time as well as cost-saving strategies to efficiently complete projects. We provide a project management team to ensure every aspect of the project is given specific attention while maintaining open communication between the jurisdiction, consultants, and our clients. We serve retailers, architects, landlords, tenant coordinators, contractors, and franchisees nationwide in the hotel, retail, restaurant, mixed-use, multifamily, entertainment, grocery, and logistical plant development industries. Contact us today for a consultation at www.permitadvisors.com.

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Aug 6, 2018 By admin