Tracing back the origins of outlet malls, it is possible to ascertain they are not a recent innovation. In London the first such mall, known as the Burlington Arcade, was opened in 1819, while the concept of indoor multi-vendor shopping was introduced to the United States in 1828, followed by some more spacious outlet malls in European countries in the mid-1860s. In the late 19th and early 20th century, a number of large cities started creating malls along similar lines, the best examples of these being GUM and Cleveland Arcade in Moscow. With the rise of automobile and suburb culture in the United States, a larger amount of outlet malls tended to take place away from city centers. This is how the first enclosed shopping malls appeared in the nation, pioneered by the Valley Fair Mall, Appleton, Wisconsin.
For more than twenty years the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada, has been maintaining the reputation of the largest enclosed shopping mall, followed by one of the world's largest and most influential shopping complex, two-mall agglomeration of the Court at King of Prussia and the Plaza at King of Prussia, held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Comparable in size is the Metro Center in Gateshead, England - the largest shopping center in Europe. The largest outlet mall in the United States, as well as the world's most visited event of the kind is the Mall of America, held annually in Bloomington, Minnesota.
The number of stores in malls may range from a dozen or so, to several hundreds, depending on the size of the latter. Thus, regional malls are designed to service a larger area as compared to that of conventional shopping malls, and consequently they offer a larger selection of stores. Common to regional malls are higher-end stores requiring a more spacious area for their services to be more profitable. Generally regional malls are considered to be tourist attractions in vacation areas.
While they occupy a rather significant service area, the total number of stores in malls of super regional category is even larger, with more than one million square feet of retain space. Another type of malls is strip malls, where stores are arranged in a row with sidewalk in front. Generally, such malls tend to be self-contained, featuring few connections to surrounding neighborhoods. In the United States they come in two sizes: a smaller variety, located in residential area, and large big box retailers, catering to the residents of an entire population area.
The former are more common and can be found in almost every town and city countrywide. Stores in malls usually range from grocery stores to video rental departments, in addition to small restaurants, dry cleaners are other services of the kind. Large strip malls, often referred to as power centers, feature a wide variety of stores, ranging from bookstores to electronics and home improvement stores. Most frequently stores in malls are operated by retailers, selling goods at discounted prices. Some of strip malls may have two or three large retailers, while the others comprise a dozen or even more. Another type of mall centers is premium outlet malls, notably the Leesburg Corner Premium, Prime Outlets Mall and more.
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