Q&A   //   December 5, 2023

‘Customers are looking to stretch dollars’: Tanger CEO on why Black Friday traffic rose 4% across its portfolio

Long lines, full parking lot and people walking around carrying shopping bags. Over Black Friday weekend, this is the sight people would see at their local Tanger shopping center. 

Tanger, which operates 39 open-air shopping centers across the country and Canada, said that traffic over Black Friday weekend rose 4% from the previous year. Stephen Yalof, Tanger CEO and President, said that its outlet centers were particularly packed due to shoppers looking to stretch their dollars. Tanger had also encouraged its retail partners to do doorbuster deals this year. 

Like most companies in the retail business, Black Friday is a busy time of the year for Tanger. The company entered the holiday shopping season with a growing occupancy rate of 98% in September compared to 97.2% in June. Yalof said that the company incorporated more DTC brands this year as well as local restaurants, which drove younger shoppers to its locations.

Last month, digitally native apparel brand Summersalt was one of the retailers that opened a store in Tanger’s new Nashville location. DTC mattress brand Casper opened a store in Tanger’s Riverhead, New York space. Tanger also welcomed shoe brand Allbirds into its list of brand partners late last year.

Yalof spoke with Modern Retail about some of the traffic trends the company saw over Black Friday weekend. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How did you drive traffic to your locations?
Black Friday is a huge selling season for us. It’s one we plan for all year. 

What we do is, in connection with a lot of our retailers, we want to make sure that we’re giving the best value to our shoppers. We do so by partnering with the retailers, encouraging them to do what we call doorbusters, which can be a number of different things. It could be a gift for being one of the first to come into the store, it could be a gift card that allows you to buy a certain amount of products for free, [and] it could be certain offers that encourage multiple sales to the retailer.

What drove more people to shop in Tanger Outlets this year?
The big trend this year, particularly in our outlet shopping centers, was value. Customers are looking to stretch dollars but not necessarily buy cheap things. They’re looking to buy famous branded stuff. They’re just looking to buy it at the best possible price.

Retailers that were more promotional than other retailers were rewarded with more traffic and more sales because the theme for Black Friday across the country was value.

Were there specific categories in retail that shoppers were gravitating to?
It’s no surprise that athletic fitness and athleisure brands were the brands that were the most productive [and] had the longest lines out the store.

Cosmetics has become a really important category. We’ve added Ulta Beauty into a number of our shopping centers and continue to do so across the country. They’re a huge draw. Customers love their products and they’ve done a wonderful job showing a new customer to our centers. 

The accessories companies — Coach, Tory Burch, Kate Spade and Michael Kors — seem to be doing really well right now. Because obviously of holiday gifting, those accessories make great gifts. But more importantly, around the holiday time is [when] people start to think about getting dressed for parties.

Tanger has added more DTC brand partners in recent years, how has this changed traffic patterns at your locations?
We’re seeing a younger customer. 

We have an initiative to get a much younger consumer. We know that the spending power of that younger consumer is great. We know that we’re competing with online to get that consumers’ attention.

It’s one thing to advertise for them, it’s another thing to do a great job of communicating with them. But what they’re really looking for is the brands that they love at value pricing. And if the only place for them to get it is in one of our centers, then we’ve got a winning combination. A lot of those direct-to-consumer brands that shop a little bit younger really were great leads to get that customer into our shopping centers.

The story has been updated to reflect that Tanger recently acquired a new lifestyle center.