Tanger Factory Outlet CEO scolds retailers: 'Amazon is a convenient scapegoat'

Retail stores that provide value and great merchandise should succeed despite the threat from online shopping, said Steven Tanger, chief executive of Tanger Factory Outlet Centers.

"We've been having this conversation for 20 years. You may recall ... it was called dot-com. And now it's called e-commerce," he said on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street."

Tanger said "Amazon is a convenient scapegoat" for retailers that are not doing a good job satisfying their customers. "If stores are well-merchandised and well-priced and give consumer a value, they do well," he argued.

Operators of off-price chains such as TJX Companies — behind the T.J.Maxx and Marshalls brands, which are part of the Tanger portfolio — have been "doing extremely well" and consumers can't buy their merchandise online, Steven Tanger said. Shares of TJX, bucking the tough environment for retail stocks, were up about 2 percent in 2017.

"The inconvenient fact is that most of online shopping for retailers' products are apparel and shoes, primarily. With 35 to 50 percent of the product returned, very few people make money," he said. "We're a full-profit business as is most of our customers. The dot-com or e-commerce part of their business is not cash flow positive. The outlet stores are cash flow and very positive."

Tanger's tenant base at outlet locations around the nation also includes about 400 different other brands — everything from Gap and Banana Republic to Brooks Brothers and Barneys to Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren.

Standalone department stores have gotten killed this year with shares of Kohl's, for example, down about 20 percent and Macy's off 17 percent.

Despite what Tanger considers a competitive advantage to providing bargain outlet prices, the stock struggled along with many other shopping center REITS, or real estate investment trusts, down about 9 percent this year.