Tanger Outlets Tilton received a boost in shopping thanks in part to recent snowfall and cold weather. (David Carkhuff/Laconia Daily Sun)
By DAVID CARKHUFF, LACONIA DAILY SUN
TILTON — Tanger Outlets Tilton is reporting an uptick in traffic for this holiday season.
Already, the center, at 120 Laconia Road, is 100 percent leased with 53 different tenants, and the ongoing expansion of a Five Guys and a drive-through-equipped Starbucks out front means the likelihood of "the Tanger shuffle" happening in 2017, said Eric Proulx, general manager of Tanger Outlets Tilton. This is when a vacancy occurs and the outlet center can bring in fresh business to fill the empty storefront.
Tanger Outlet Centers, which continues to attract more than 185 million shoppers annually, according to the company's third-quarter report, tends to enjoy near-perfect occupancy.
"Lease lines are at capacity from all angles except for in the front where our parking lot is," Proulx said.
As of Sept. 30, the company's consolidated portfolio was 97.4 percent occupied, compared to 97.2 percent at Sept. 30, 2015, and 96.9 percent as of June 30, 2016, the company reported.
"It really comes down to the relationships," Proulx said, explaining this high occupancy rate.
"Hopefully, in the new year, we'll be able to make another announcement about a future tenant that's coming into our center," Proulx said, which he anticipated will generate "excitement" and "emotional impact."
This month, anecdotal evidence suggests a surge in shopping as Christmas and Hanukkah approach.
"The parking lot has been full on many occasions; with the recent snowstorm, it's bringing people into the holiday spirit," Proulx said. "In years past when it's been warmer, warmer climate, and there's no snow, people are like, 'Oh, I've got plenty of time.' Now, that there's a decent amount of snow on the ground, and I think it's forecast to be zero degrees on Friday, people are realizing it's close to winter, and the holidays are how many days away?"
That means a steady current of customers into not only the stores but into the outlet center office to buy gift cards and handle other pre-holiday business.
Tanger's shopper services office has been busy, Proulx confirmed. "Our traffic to our office has been up, typically. Traditionally, if office traffic is up, the shopping center traffic would reflect that as well."
Incredibly, only one full weekend of shopping remains for this holiday season.
"The pressure is on. There's only one full weekend left for shopping, and that's this weekend," Proulx said. "There are plenty of shoppers out there, and their hands are full of bags, in multiple stores that they're shopping at one time."
TangerStyle, the outlet center's three-times-a-year magazine, entered its 10th year, with themed shopping tips and trends — disco glam, pastels, lace, luxe layers and pleats all warrant a look in the issue (https://hlgroup.sharefile.com/d-sa0fe849a0444321b).
The magazine also taps into the customer's desire to save money for gift giving.
"That is gaining popularity as well because again it really encompasses additional discounts, and not only are consumers looking for deep discounts, they're looking for additional discounts," Proulx said.
Tanger customers plan prior to shopping, and they glean coupons from the website, http://www.tangeroutlet.com, Proulx said.
"From our brands and our standpoint, they have very loyal shoppers or consumers who typically shop multi-channel," meaning in the physical stores and on the internet.
One advantage that may explain the bustle at the outlet center: "Traditional bricks and mortar, that's where you get the experience," Proulx said, describing the tangible experience of shopping in person.
Tanger Factory Outlet Centers Inc. is based in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Cody Barney with ESCFederal cleaning service wipes down a ride at Tanger Outlets Tilton on Dec. 13. (David Carkhuff/Laconia Daily Sun)