Outlet malls are the retail industry’s response to consumer demand for merchandise that’s similar to what’s sold in the regular retail stores, but at a lower price point, the Federal Trade Commission reports.
As long as consumers know what they’re getting into, outlets can be a treasure trove of good deals from your favorite stores like Nike, J.Crew, Prada and many more.
1. Do some research before hitting the stores. Look for coupons on outlet mall and store websites. Often outlet coupons can be combined with the store’s sales.
2. Timing is everything when it comes to outlet shopping, according to US News & World Report. Get to stores early in the week to avoid crowds and find the best selections.
3. Be familiar with the retail prices of items you want to buy to ensure you’re truly getting a bargain, the FTC reports. There are even apps to help consumers compare prices with the regular store.
4. When starting at any given store, ABC News says it’s best to begin at the outer edge. Bigger markdowns can typically be found in those areas, while pricier items are in the center of the store.
5. Did you know that most of those clothes, shoes and home furnishings were manufactured specifically for the outlet store? They were and sometimes those products can be of lesser quality than what you’d buy at a traditional store. So to clear up any confusion about a product just ask a staff member if it’s “made-for-outlet”.
6. If an item looks new and undamaged, there may be a different reason for its lower price. And many times that reason is a difference in material or quality. For example, plastic might replace leather trim on a jacket, or a t-shirt may have less stitching and lighter-weight fabric than it’s counterparts.
7. Off-season merchandise is often the best deal at outlet malls. So go ahead and stock up for next year.
8. Be sure you understand the store’s return policy. If the outlet is a long distance from your home it may not be economical to drive to the store to return your merchandise. Additionally, most regular retail stores don’t accept returns from their outlet counterparts.
Now that you know the tips and tricks it’s time to start those shopping engines.
Outlet shopping: Getting your money’s worth [Federal Trade Commission]