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 LAS VEGAS, Oct. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Retail shopping experts are predicting a healthy holiday season for the industry in 1993 based on nationwide month-to-month performance figures compared to last year.
 The Johnson Redbook Service, which tracks consumer spending, forecasts an increase of up to 8.5 percent in retail shopping for the time period between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
 "Consumers will know by this time where they stand on the tax issues and will have a better picture of what the Clinton health care reform package will mean to them," said Peter Schaeffer, partner with the New York-based Johnson Redbook Service. "We believe there is a pent-up demand to spend this year, resulting in a good Christmas for retailers."
 "November and December are traditionally very good months for our malls," said Andrew J. Groveman, senior vice president of marketing and administration and head of the outlet mall division of Belz Enterprises, one of the country's largest outlet mall developers. "Because of optimistic projections being forwarded by those who analyze retail performance, the outlet shopping industry is encouraged by our prospects for the 1993 holiday season."
 According to Jim Giddings, vice president of the retail consulting firm Kurt Salmon Associates, shopping center sales in 1993 should exceed the $2 trillion barrier for the first time, based on the U.S. Dept. of Commerce's $1.96 trillion retail sales figure for 1992.
 "Last year's holiday season was excellent," said Neal Tyler, chairman and chief executive officer of Ampar, a New York-based start-up factory outlet chain for women's large size apparel. "Determining factors such as the economy, unemployment and the stock market have held steady, therefore giving a sense of comfort to the consumer. Barring a major downturn in the stock market, which is a very visible indicator to the public, this holiday season will be just as good as last year, and perhaps even a little better."
 Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., the nation's largest indoor shopping mall and entertainment complex, is expecting holiday traffic to be up over its first year of operation. Maureen Bausch, director of marketing for the mall, said summer and fall sales have shown healthy increases.
 "Our retailers are saying that people last year spent more time looking rather than buying," Bausch said. "This year, customers are spending money. Our tourist counts have also been up, and that's a good signal that our holiday sales will increase."
 The outlet shopping division is one segment of the retail industry which has experienced significant growth over the past five years.
 Although outlet shopping makes up only .8 percent of the overall retail picture, total sales within this small component are projected to exceed $9 billion in 1993 according to Value Retail News' "Outlet Industry Data." This is an increase of more than 50 percent over the sales at outlet malls just three years earlier.
 Over the past five years the total number of outlet centers nationwide has nearly doubled, growing from 142 in 1989 to 275 this year. Outlet centers offer consumers up to 75 percent off normal retail prices because the stores are owned and operated by the manufacturers.
 Because of retail sensitivity, outlet center sites are usually built without a major anchor tenant and are located away from population centers but are near heavily traveled interstate highways. One of the most lucrative developments sites for outlet malls has centered around tourist destinations, such as Orlando, Fla., and Las Vegas.
 The largest outlet mall without a major anchor in the nation is the Belz Factory Outlet World in Orlando, which has more than 700,000 square feet of shopping space.
 This mall is operated by Belz Enterprises of Memphis, Tenn., a multifaceted commercial real estate development company with property throughout the United States. Belz operates five outlet malls across the country, including the 255,000 square-foot Belz Factory Outlet World Las Vegas, scheduled to open Nov. 19.
 In a city that is home to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, Belz Factory Outlet World is Orlando's second largest tourist attraction, drawing more than 11 million people in 1992.
 Groveman said Las Vegas, which will be home to more than 87,000 hotel rooms by the end of 1993, is an ideal location for factory outlet shopping.
 "Las Vegas is experiencing a tremendous growth in residential population and more than 22 million tourists are expected to visit the city this year," Groveman said. "Las Vegas visitors are value-oriented consumers. In a city where you can find a 99-cent breakfast and a $4.95 prime rib dinner, we believe our industry has found an excellent location for bargain-conscious shoppers."
 The majority of outlet shoppers are affluent, well-educated, working women who shop mainly for brands and bargains, according to two surveys conducted recently by Value Retail News.
 The number of shoppers seeking bargains and ways to stretch their disposable income increases during the busy holiday shopping season. Belz Factory Outlet World Orlando saw its traffic counts increase 13 percent in 1992 over the previous year between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
 "Our Orlando mall drew more than 250,000 people during the four days following Thanksgiving last year," Groveman said.
 "Consumer confidence is such that with the right combination of prices, promotions and products, holiday sales could very well exceed last year," Tyler said.
 However, over the last few years, tough economic times and low consumer confidence created a challenging environment in which retailers scrambled for market share.
 "The whole retail scene has become increasingly competitive as the big get bigger and retail floor space continues to increase," Redbook's Schaeffer said. "Retail square footage per person in the United States has doubled in the past 10 years according to the retail gurus."
 As in other industries, retail shopping has seen the emergence of unique marketing strategies designed to attract consumers.
 In 1992, the 360-store Mall of America opened and officials estimated that between 35 million and 40 million visits took place during its first year of operation. Many visitors were drawn to Knott's Camp Snoopy, an indoor amusement park and other entertainment activities.
 Last year, Caesars Place in Las Vegas opened The Forum Shops at Caesars, a 74-store facility designed to resemble a street in ancient Rome. The floor is a cobblestone street while the curved ceiling changes to reflect the changing day, from a cloudy sky to a setting sun.
 At the center of the Forum Shops is the Festival Fountain, a high- tech show where each hour marble statues of Bacchus, Apollo, Venus, and Pluto come to life in a lighted extravaganza.
 Even within the typically "no-frills" outlet industry, which traditionally has relied upon quality products at heavily discounted prices to attract customers, modern technology has influenced the way in which developers position themselves in the market.
 For example, Belz Factory Outlet World Las Vegas will be home to a permanent state-of-the-art laser show/entertainment attraction designed by Richard Sandhaus, an internationally-known laser artist whose shows include the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary, and events at the World Trade Center in New York and Quebec. Sandhaus also developed a permanent show in downtown Phoenix.
 The Las Vegas show runs six minutes every hour on the hour projecting shapes and movement on the walls and filling 90 percent of the air space in the mall's center court. The light-filled action is set to original musical scores created specifically for Belz Factory Outlet World Las Vegas.
 "Shopping mall developers realize we have to give our customers something above the ordinary," Groveman said. "We believe the addition of an entertainment component to the shopping environment not only increases the average amount of time the consumer spends at our mall, but enhances the overall experience.
 "But we can't rely solely upon the entertainment to bring in and keep our customer. No matter what type of retail you provide, you still need to offer a high quality product and values to your customer."
 -0- 10/20/93
 /CONTACT: Lynn Sullivan or Howard Stutz of R&R Advertising, 702-228-0222/

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Date:Oct 20, 1993

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