On Shopcation

The Cincinnati Premium Outlets in Monroe. The Cincinnati Premium Outlets in Monroe.

The New Staycation

By Sara McKinniss

The Cincinnati Premium Outlets in Monroe.

The Cincinnati Premium Outlets in Monroe.

Summer vacation is a phrase that most don’t relate to after high school or college. Unless employed in education, most Americans don’t experience three months of Blackberry-free bliss.

Though on average, American workers receive 14 days of vacation a year, less than one-third actually use all of their earned time off, per a 2009 study conducted by Expedia.com. With the economy still recovering from its downfall in 2008 and the unemployment rate still hovering around 10 percent, spending extra money on pricey vacations is not a priority for those still struggling financially.

However, with some indications that retail spending is up, the art of combining a “staycation” — a term coined in mid-recession for those who will travel but not far from home — and shopping, is one that is especially unique to the Miami Valley.

Now known as a “shopcation,” there are several local retailers who are exploring this fashionable business trend.

“The concept of a ‘shopcation’ is not a new business idea,” said Kristen Hauer, marketing director of Prime Outlets Jeffersonville in Jeffersonville, Ohio. “It’s just more popular now as shoppers are smarter and budgets are tighter.”

Those who are looking to either save or spend a buck will find many local options within 100 miles (a two-hour drive) of Dayton. Retailers partner with local hotels and independently owned bed and breakfasts to provide special pricing on rooms and offer additional shopping perks during a customer’s visit.

“Those who are looking for an alternative to a pricey out-of-town vacation might find a shopcation more wallet friendly,” said Hauer. “Outlet centers recognize this as a travel and tourism opportunity and so we work diligently to create partnerships with local hotels to pass the cost savings onto the customer.”

With over 500 million people visiting outlet malls every year, popular traditional mall chain store merchants recognize the need to have a presence not only at shopping malls, but at outlets as well. Creating a strategic partnership between the outlet center, hotels and merchants ultimately helps pass additional savings to the consumer.

“Our merchants see this as an opportunity to connect with customers and drive business,” said Hauer. “They offer exclusive coupons and promotional offers to our partnering hotels to help customers save more money so that they have a better shopping experience.”

In Ohio, there are four major outlet malls located near Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus, and dozens of major malls throughout the state. Outlet centers are not the only shopping destinations that offer shopcations, many traditional shopping malls like Easton Town Center in Columbus and Kenwood Town Mall near Cincinnati participate in these programs too. If you’re interested in a shopcation as an alternative to a usual vacation, these picks are sure to please even the pickiest fashionista:

Prime Outlets Jeffersonville: Located between Cincinnati and Columbus directly off I-71, Prime Outlets Jeffersonville is home to over 100 retail stores including Kate Spade, Coach, Juicy Couture, J. Crew, Eddie Bauer, Pottery Barn and more. Their special “Shop and Stay Packages” offer steep discounts on local hotel rooms in addition to money saving coupon books. In addition to room discounts and coupon books, some hotels offer complimentary breakfasts, dinners or gift cards. For the most current packages, visit www.primeoutlets-jeffersonville.com.

Easton Town Center: Ten minutes from downtown Columbus is one of the premiere shopping and entertainment destinations in Central Ohio. Easton Town Center is anchored by two department stores, Macy’s and Nordstrom, connecting with over 100 stores, restaurants, bars and local businesses that call this area home. Three hotels, the Hilton Columbus, Courtyard By Marriott and Residence Inn at Easton, offer seasonal packages for shoppers looking for a relaxing weekend getaway with friends or a significant other. Fashion shows and related events are often held inside of Easton Station, Nordstrom and Macy’s. Notable stores include Burberry, Tiffany & Co., Henri Bendel’s, H&M, The North Face and Apple. To see the latest seasonal packages, contact the hotels directly or visit www.eastontowncenter.com.

Cincinnati Premium Outlets: A short drive down I-75 from Dayton will lead you to the Cincinnati Premium Outlets. The newest outlet mall in Ohio, which opened in late 2009, offers a variety of label-worthy options for even the biggest of outlet snobs. Elie Tahari, Michael Kors, Off Saks Fifth Avenue, Coach, Lacoste, True Religion, Joe’s Jeans, plus many more, call Cincinnati Premium Outlets home. A variety of hotels in the area offer deep discounts plus additional perks like valuable coupons or gift cards to the outlets. For the latest in package offerings or to see a complete store listing, visit www.premiumoutlets.com.

Know before you go:

  • Find out mall hours. If you’re planning a shopcation around the holidays, the mall could have shorter or longer hours or may even be closed. Call ahead.
  • Visit guest services. Most malls have a guest services desk where you can obtain additional coupons or mall maps. Check to see if there are any special incentives or rewards for being a shopcationer.
  • Research various packages. Some partner hotels offer mall gift cards, coupons, free meals or other incentives for booking a shopcation package. Call the hotel directly or visit the mall website for the latest offers.

Reach DCP freelance writer Sara McKinniss
at SaraMcKinniss@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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