In the UK outlet shopping started with Clarks Village in Somerset and has now spread all over the country and into Europe.
Before 1993, outlet shopping centers in Britain tended to be located as part of manufacturers' operations in warehouse-style buildings. Their motto was 'pile them high, sell them cheap' and, as a rule, they sold mostly defective goods and seconds. By contrast, the US concept offered shoppers purpose-built shopping malls, with all the brand names housed under one roof.
In the UK, outlet shopping schemes are defined as dedicated, mall-style developments. They are often built around a village square or quay-side. Except shopping areas, they offer an attractive leisure environment and extensive car parking provision. Nowadays, there are more than 40 purpose-built trading outlet shopping centers. Units at factory outlets are run by both manufacturers and retailers, selling the previous season's stock, end-of-line products, cancelled orders, some quality seconds, and returned production at prices much lower than those in the High Street, normally discounted between 30-80%.
Keep in mind that there is a difference between goods sold at outlet shops, outlet villages, and the factory shops actually attached to the factory. Factory stores may actually stock new fashion items, while outlet shops and villages are more likely to be selling last season's surplus stock that had to be removed from in-store sales racks to make room for fresh goods.
There are a great deal of outlet shopping centers and factory outlets in the UK, but today we talk about some of them that are located outside London. There are two biggest London discount outlets:
Bicester Outlet Shopping Village (50 Pringle Drive, Bicester, Oxon (T) 01869-373-200) is a serious fashion and bargain outlet shopping center scooping up European luxury brands that are presented in 48 outlet shops with discounts on brands including Jaeger, Kurt Geiger, Benetton, Jigsaw, and Versace . British highlights include Aquascutum, Burberry, Gieves & Hawkes, Waterford Wedgwood, Molton Brown, and Penhaligon's.
Burberry Discount Outlet (29 Chatham Place, Hackney E9, (T) (0181) 985-3344) offers a wide range from the coveted Burberry collection, as well as staple wardrobe items, raincoats, and accessories.
In addition to these two, there are also many others: Whistle Sales Shop (25 King's Road, London), Joseph Sales Shop (53 King's Road, London; (0207) 730 7562), Steinbery & Tolkein (193 King's Road, London; (0207) 376 3660), Designer's Sales Studio (201 King's Road, London; (0207) 351 4171), The Designer Sample Store (289 King's Road, London; (0207) 351 0880), Brown Label for Less (Man) (20 Brook St., London; (0207) 491 7833), Brown Label for Less (Woman) (38 South Molton St., London; (0207) 409 7142), Paul Smith Sales Shop (23 Avery Row, London; (0207) 493 1287), etc.
The factory outlet industry has been around in some form or another for over 100 years and, as a result, nowadays the outlet shopping market is strong and multifarious.