Outlet alternatives to duty-free shopping
A rendering of the new Chicago shopping complex due to open on 1 August. (Courtesy of Fashion Outlets of Chicago)
Soon, travellers with a layover in Chicago will be able to spend time dining and shopping outside their terminal, without fretting about missing their connection.
The Fashion Outlets of Chicago, a new 530,000sqft luxury outlet mall located just two miles from O’Hare International Airport, will open on 1 August with more than 120 shops, including Barneys, Prada and Neiman Marcus. The mall is a project of the AWE Talisman developing firm, which already has shopping centres in New Mexico, Niagara Falls and Las Vegas.
“Outlet shopping is fuelled by tourism,” AWE Talisman chairman Arthur Weiner told the New York Times. “Visitors can be 50% or more of the business.”
Fashion Outlets is hoping to attract O’Hare’s 76 million yearly airport travellers with a free shuttle to and from the terminals. To expedite the process, travellers will be able to print their boarding passes in the mall with a TSA-certified concierge, as well as check their luggage and newly acquired shopping bags directly onto their flights.
For international travellers with visas, the concierge check-in is similar to airport curbside check-in and visa regulations are the same as a typical layover.
Besides shopping and dining, the Fashion Outlets has partnered with The Arts Initiative, a US organisation dedicated to bringing museum-quality contemporary art to popular public places. Their debut collection, opening on 1 August, is curated by Miami’s Primary Projects gallery and will include installations by contemporary artist Daniel Arsham and the Friends With You pop art duo Samuel Albert Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III.
However, the Fashion Outlets is not the first shopping centre that has found success by offering convenient and affordable alternatives to expensive airport duty-free shopping.
In Tokyo, Narita Airport offers a cheap hop-on and hop-off shuttle bus to the Aeon Mall, an outlet that houses an official Hello Kitty store, a Capcom video game arcade and a movie theatre. In Osaka, Kansai International operates a 20-minute bus shuttle to nearby Rinku Premium Outlets, where travellers will find luxury designer brands such as Anna Sui, Burberry and Coach.
In the US, the Howard Hughes Promenade is a picturesque outdoor mall reached via a 15-minute bus ride from Los Angeles’ International. Miami’s Dolphin Mall offers a complimentary shuttle to Miami International, as well as to the beach, downtown and nearby hotels. In New Jersey, Newark Airport is just a five-minute shuttle ride from Jersey Gardens, one of the biggest shopping centres in the state.
And it seems the trend of flying and shopping will not slow down any time soon. Just earlier this month, the government in Pudong announced the construction of Shanghai’s biggest outlet mall, set to open on 1 May 2014. The shopping centre will be located nearby both Shanghai Pudong International Airport and the forthcoming Shanghai Disneyland theme park, which is expected to welcome more than seven million visitors a year when it opens in 2015.