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Difference Between Mall and Outlet

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When planning to go out shopping, it is prudent to be familiar with the different stores in the vicinity. Not all stores are alike – some will offer a larger or more affordable selection of goods for your needs. The range of products a store provides is intrinsically tied to the nature of its establishment – for instance, whether it is a mall or an outlet.

How is a Mall different from an Outlet?

The main difference between a mall and an outlet is in scale. Malls are larger structures that contain several stores, and consequently, offer much more to customers. Contrast this to outlets, which are smaller and more specialized buildings that sell a particular brand of merchandise – often at a discount.

What is a Mall?

central world mall bangkok
CentralWorld in Bangkok, one of the largest Mall in the world

Malls come in different sizes, but are invariably large buildings. A mall usually contains several stores, including restaurants and a grocery, that are stocked with high-quality merchandise and a brand’s latest products. Due to their size, many malls also feature movie theatres, arcades, food courts and other attractions.

Shoppers can find a wider selection of products at these stores, making the mall an attractive place for buying several different items in one trip. As a consequence, malls are designed with wide spaces and atriums to accommodate the high volume of foot traffic that is expected to pass through them daily. 

The bustling atmosphere, shops that offer various products and services, and rest spaces in a mall make it a favorite place for socializing and gathering with friends.

What is an Outlet?

camarillo outlet
Camarillo Premium Outlets, a large outlet center in the north of Los Angeles

Outlets are simpler and smaller venues for purchasing goods. A typical outlet only contains stores from one or a few brands, and some even feature local shops exclusively.

The distinguishing feature of an outlet store is in the affordability of its merchandise; its products are usually cheaper than those sold in malls because they are bought wholesale from, or sold directly by, the manufacturer. Although these products can be in excellent condition, some of them are taken from mall or manufacturer surpluses, and may exhibit defects. Inspecting a product to confirm its quality is a typical part of shopping at outlets.

An outlet is dedicated to the sale of its merchandise; it rarely features attractions as large as a movie theatre, although some do include kiosks for food.

Differences Between Malls and Outlets


Malls are much larger establishments than outlets. By design, they are capable of accommodating much more foot traffic with wide hallways, large atriums and resting spaces, and several enclosures or lots for stores of various kinds. 

Outlets are smaller. Most of their interior space can be taken up by the inventory of their products. They can be set up similarly to the department store or grocery inside a mall. Such a layout is also designed to minimize the time customers spend in having to browse the store’s contents.

Variety of Products

Shoppers tend to find a far wider assortment of goods at a mall than anywhere else, boasting stores for food, clothing, equipment, recreation and other needs, and from multiple brands. This makes malls a premium location for buying a long list of different items in only one trip.

Outlets offer far fewer products overall; many focus on a specific type of good, such as clothes, furniture or hobby products, although they can still offer a large variety of said goods. 

While both store types can offer the latest line of products from a brand, it is more common to see goods from previous trends or production runs at an outlet.

Quality of Products

Products sold at malls are expected to be high-quality. The items that are placed on display are usually the best-of-the-best from a brand’s line-up: this holds true with shops for computers or phones, fashion and accessories, and home appliances alike. Older or lower-quality products are usually kept at the back or hidden unless requested by a customer.

Some outlets offer products of decent quality, especially for their price, and it is not uncommon to find items of the same caliber as those that are found in malls. 

It is understood that many items at outlets are of a lesser quality. They may be overrun by a manufacturer that did not meet its standards for size, design or other specifications.

Pricing of Products

Outlets offer their wares at a much more affordable price than most malls. Goods that are bought wholesale are cheaper to sell, and consequently, outlets are excellent locations to shop for items in bulk or on a budget. Discerning shoppers can even purchase trending or high-quality items at an outlet for a discount. 

Malls offer pricier items overall – some items are naturally expensive by virtue of being new or in-demand, but oftentimes store owners need to mark up prices due to the cost of renting mall space. However, the large variety of items at a mall means that shoppers can still easily find products within their budget.

Other Amenities

Outlets are designed purely for shopping, maximizing their limited space to put items on display and attract customers. They are intended as venues for people to quickly find affordable goods and leave. Some outlet malls have food kiosks or stores.

Contrast this to malls, which collect revenue not only from store sales, but from housing other amenities, such as food courts, play areas, film theatres, groceries, massage parlors and other establishments. 

Parking Areas

As malls attract a high volume of customers, they tend to have more space for parking vehicles. Larger malls even have a dedicated building or basement to park cars and bikes. In comparison, outlets generally have fewer parking spaces or none at all.

Social Functions

Outlets can be a good venue for people going shopping, although they will rarely stay for long after making their purchase unless refreshments are also sold there.

People spend far more time in malls, and not only for shopping. Customers can spend an afternoon going out to eat together at a restaurant, watch films, play at the arcade, and browse several stores.

Comparison Chart: Mall Vs Outlet

Variety of ProductsWide range of merchandiseLess variety but more specific
Quality of ProductsBrand standardSame, but below-standard goods are more present
Pricing of ProductsCostlier overallAffordable, bargain-oriented
Other AmenitiesManyFew to none
Parking AreasLarge and spaciousSmall or absent
Social FunctionsShopping, dining, film-going, gaming, etcShopping

How are Malls and Outlets similar? 

Malls and outlets are fundamentally designed to make goods more accessible to consumers by concentrating various shops, stores and merchandise into a single location. In the same way, they create a location for shop owners and brands to more easily attract customers to buy their wares.

Selling goods is likewise the main source of revenue for these establishments – either directly or through the rent and expenses paid by store owners. 

In addition, both malls and outlets offer affordable goods to customers of any budget.


What are the largest malls in the world?

Malls are some of the most gargantuan commercial structures ever built in the modern world. Their size is commonly measured as the maximum area that tenants can lease – a unit known as gross leasable area (GLA.)

At over 600,000 sq. m, the New South China Mall in Dongguan, China is currently the world’s largest mall by gross leasable area. Close behind it is Golden Resources Mall, another Chinese supermall. 

The next three largest malls are CentralWorld in Bangkok, SM Mall of Asia in the Philippines, and Dubai Mall in the United Arab Emirates.

What are the different types of shopping malls?

Malls come in many varieties – each suited to the particular need of their local vicinity.

Neighborhood centers and community halls, for instance, are very small establishments that cater specifically to the needs of a neighborhood, and may feature a grocery, a DIY section, and pet care products. 

On the opposite end, regional or superregional centers are large malls designed to cater to consumers from all across a state or province.

Special malls also exist – including fashion centers and festival centers.


Malls and outlets are establishments that provide greater access to consumer goods and services, such as food, clothing, entertainment and other supplies. 

A mall is larger than an outlet. It features many more stores and offers a wider range of products of high quality, although it is much more affordable to purchase goods at an outlet than at a mall – especially when buying in bulk. 

Outlets are less concerned with trendiness, but still sell decent-quality goods such as overruns from manufacturers. 

Compared to an outlet, customers can do much more in a mall aside from shopping, as malls have spaces for restaurants, cinemas, groceries, and many more amenities.

Feel free to comment and discuss about the article in the comment space below if you have any information or remarks to add. If you think we made a mistake, you can also report it there.
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About the Author: Tom Vincent

Tom Vincent graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and social studies. He then started his higher education at the University of François Rabelais in Tours with a DUT Information Communication. To expand his knowledge, he also followed a professional degree in e-commerce and digital marketing at the Lumière University of Lyon. On this project, he is in charge of articles covering language, industry and social.
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