Mall Owner Simon Is Building an Online-Only Outlet Mall

Simon Property Group, the largest mall owner in the U.S., announced Wednesday that it’s partnering with online fashion company Rue Gilt Groupe—parent brand of fashion site Rue La La—to launch a proprietary website designed for discount shoppers.

The idea for ShopPremiumOutlets.com—the soon-to-be-live e-commerce site, is essentially to take the premium outlet mall experience online.

Simon said in a statement that it’s meant to fill in the gaps for people who don’t live near outlet malls or stores. Brands that have already signed on to participate in the new site include Cole Haan, Aeropostale, G.H. Bass & Co., Under Amour, Saks Off Fifth, and Nautica.

The site will be run by Rue Gilt Groupe, which is a merging of two online discount and flash-sale websites, Rue La La and Gilt (Rue Gilt Groupe acquired Gilt from Hudson’s Bay Co. in 2018). The deal stipulates that Simon and Rubin will become equal partners in both Rue Gilt Groupe and ShopPremiumOutlets.com.

Simon plans to sink $280 million into the website, it says, and will slice into its $100 million annual marketing budget to promote it.

“We believe online value shopping presents a tremendous business opportunity for Simon, given our credibility, trust, and relationships with brands, retailers, and shoppers,” Simon chief executive officer David Simon said in a prepared statement.

Like all modern mall operators, Simon has been struggling with declining foot traffic and store closures in recent years. The move to open an online “store” as a shopping center developer is bold but appropriately proactive.

Top: Simon shopping center Coconut Point (image via: @simonpropertygroup)

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JCK Magazine Editor