DEFINITION of 'Power center'
A large (250,000 to 750,000 square ft.) outdoor shopping mall which usually includes three or more "big box" stores, as well as smaller retailers and restaurants (either free-standing or located in strip plazas), surrounded by a shared parking lot. Power centers are built for the convenience of motorists. Unlike traditional big box stores, power centers often have distinctive architectural features.
BREAKING DOWN 'Power center'
The first power center opened in Colma, Calif., in 1986. Since then, the power center model has been steadily edging out the traditional shopping mall. Renovations of older malls commonly involve turning them into power centers, rather than adding new retail space to existing facilities. For space reasons, power centers are almost always located in the suburbs. There are exceptions, however, when urban areas are redeveloped to accommodate a power center.