Frugal Living

Are You Really Saving When Shopping Outlet Stores

Are You Really Saving When Shopping Outlet Stores

Shopping Outlet Stores

Photo Compliments of Ryan McKnight

Average discounts in a factory outlet store are right around 35% (if you shop sales at your local retailer you should be getting 30 to 50% off list).  There are some things you need to be aware of and tips to improve your chances of success.  Simply they are:

  • Absolutely ask about and check quality
  • Pay attention to detail
  • Know the list pricing for the item you are shopping (use the internet on your smartphone)
  • Shop the clearance and discount rack for greater discounts

Tips for Success

Shop the sales and look in the back for the true discount rack.

Look at apparel tags.  The tags of irregular or imperfect merchandise are usually sliced, marked on, or otherwise altered to show that the merchandise is unfit for retail sale.  The items may have imperfections, but at least you’ll know that they aren’t knockoffs.  Retailers’ lower-priced lines usually carry different tags than the ones sewn onto the real deal.  At Gap Outlets, the tags are white with blue lettering, the reverse of the retail tags.  At Banana Republic Factory Stores, the tags have three small diamonds indicating they’re not retail quality. Merchandise from the Brooks Brothers outlet line is labeled as “Brooks Brothers 346.”  Get familiar with real retail tags, so you can spot the impostors at outlet stores.  If you are not familiar ask, if you are bashful you are wasting your time and money.

Know what an item is really worth.  How can you know whether you’re getting a great deal at the Samsonite outlet if you don’t know the real retail price of a suitcase? Always, always comparison shop for large purchases (it is so easy on your smartphone).

Think seasonally.  It’s a good bet that any in-season merchandise is from an outlet-only line.  Real retail overruns don’t arrive in outlet stores until after the season has passed.  You should be shopping for summer cloths in August and September, and a winter coat in the spring.

If you’re shopping at a chain that has stores in every outlet mall in the country, you’re really guaranteed to be getting outlet-quality merchandise.  At an outlet with only a few locations, the merchandise is more likely to be true overruns, discontinued items, and last-season’s line because the company doesn’t have to fill hundreds of stores.

Tricks

Trick #1: The merchandise is not always what you think it is.

Some outlet stores still sell overruns and irregulars, and many more sell out-of-date items from seasons past, the majority of common outlet stores supplement their stock with merchandise created especially for outlet-store sale.  These lines carry the brand name, but they’re made with lower-quality fabrics and cheaper construction techniques.

Trick #2: Be careful of shrewd marketing.

Discounts may be exaggerated with based on higher than normal list pricing; you need to know the true list price for the items on your list (use your smartphone to compare prices as you shop for the items on your list).

Trick #3: Location can deceive you.

The remote location of manufactures outlets produces a false perception that exaggerates the discount for shoppers.

Outlet Malls in Washington

Seattle Premium OutletsWebsite

Store – Listing

10600 Quil Ceda Blvd.

Tulalip, WA 98271

360-654-3000

122 Stores

8 Restaurants

Directions – MapQuest

Outlet Collection SeattleWebsite

Store – Listing

1101 SuperMall Way

Auburn, WA 98001

800-SAY-VALU / 253-833-9500

94 Stores

11 Restaurants

Directions – MapQuest

North Bend Premium Outlets  – Website

Store – Listing

461 South Fork Avenue SW

North Bend, WA 98045

425-888-4505

45 Stores

2 Restaurants

Directions – MapQuest

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2 Comments

  1. Interesting video clip. I quit going to the outlet malls in St. Augustine, FL more than 13 years ago because I wasn’t fooled by that “perception” that things were cheaper. The only store down there that I even think about is the Corningware store and for all I know, it’s long gone. Corningware, at one time, made the BEST vegetable peeler.
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