The current economic downturn might be causing headaches for owners of enclosed regional malls, but it seems to be benefiting outlet centers.

For example, Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group reported that its Chelsea Premium Outlets division experienced a 5.5 percent increase in its sales per square foot in the second quarter 2008 ended June 30. Simon's regional mall portfolio experienced a 1.0 percent increase in sales per square foot during the same period. Chelsea operates 38 outlet centers in the United States.

“We are pleased so far with what we have seen this summer,” says Michele Rothstein, senior vice president of marketing with Chelsea. “But we've been very consistent in our positioning — it's designer and leading name brands for great savings.”

Meanwhile, Greensboro, N.C.-based outlet center operator Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, Inc. reported that sales per square foot remained flat in the second quarter, at $340, but increases on signed lease renewals averaged 18.3 percent compared with 13.6 percent during the same period in 2007. Tanger operates 31 outlet centers nationally.