Sawgrass Mills to add 25 new full-price shops, restaurants

The country’s largest outlet mall is getting even bigger. But in a twist, its newest wing will be leased to full-price retailers rather than discounters.

Broward’s Sawgrass Mills in Sunrise, which draws millions of visitors each year, announced Tuesday that it is adding 118,000 square foot of space in an open-air expansion. The new area, called Town Center, will feature 25 full-price shops, a parking deck with room for 2,000 car and four new sit-down restaurants, according to a press release from owner Simon Property Group, the country’s largest shopping mall operator.

Town Center will be located in the southeast quadrant of the mall, near Brandsmart. A spokesman for Simon declined to provide additional details.

When Town Center opens in 2018, it will bring Sawgrass Mills’ total square footage to about 2.3 million square feet. Aventura Mall will still be the area’s largest at 2.7 million square feet.

The trend of mixing discount with full-price retail isn’t entirely new, said Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst for consumer market research firm NPD. But at Sawgrass Mills, the pairing will be more obvious than pairings he’s seen in the past.

To compete, he expects most full-price retailers will offer discounts through coupons and sales. “You’ll be surprised at how similar the pricing turns out to be,” Cohen said.

Labeling a store as a discount or outlet retailer creates a consumer perception that those stores are less expensive, he said, even if the savings are minuscule.

“In many cases, a lot of the stores that are in these outlet malls, they’re not all that discounted,” Cohen said. “In fact, I’ve seen some that discount a penny.”

The expansion likely will precede by several years the opening of the 3 million-square-foot American Dream Mall proposed for northwest Miami-Dade. Though several other retail projects — including Brickell City Centre, Miami Worldcenter and the Miami Design District — are underway, all are east of I-95.

The Sawgrass expansion likely will pull business from other retailers in the area, Cohen said.

The Colonnade at Sawgrass, the mall’s designer outlet component, is currently undergoing its third expansion, set to open in March of next year. The dining, entertainment and retail open air component of the mall, the Oasis at Sawgrass, will also be updated in 2016.

Cohen said he thinks more and more full-price retailers will start to fill empty spaces in discount malls.

“I think South Florida is just the beginning,” Cohen said. “I think it’s going to spread like wildfire.”