Outlet stores can be a great way to get deep discounts on clothing and other items from name brands. However, if you come unprepared, you could end up spending more and coming home with items of low quality. Contrary to popular belief, not everything at an outlet store is a bargain. In some cases, you can find identical items for less elsewhere, so saving money isn’t as easy as you think. You’ll have to do some research to get the best deals, but you can still score significant savings while outlet shopping. Here are nine tips to help you become a savvy shopper while on your next trip to an outlet store.
Some of our favorite outlet stores are Nordstrom Rack, Sears Outlet, J.Crew Factory, Gap Factory, and Joe's New Balance Outlet. Subscribe to their emails (just click on their names) so you can stay up-to-date with the best sales and promotions courtesy of DealsPlus.
1. Don’t make any assumptions.
Source: 10 Best
The outlet store is not necessarily the cheapest place to find clothes, electronics, home goods and anything else that you need. That’s what they want you to believe, though, so you end up spending more. In reality, your local mall will likely have the same thing for about the same price and with a better return policy. This is especially true if your mall is having a big sale weekend. And items at outlet malls are typically of lower quality, so it’s highly likely that your mall will have a similar item of higher quality for the same price. So do some research and price comparisons before plunking down your hard-earned money at an outlet mall.
2. Know the stores and their offerings.
Not every store in a mall is a true outlet store. Here are the four types you should be aware of and what they offer:
3. Find true bargains with apps.
Source: Glam Asia
Sure, the price tag says you’re saving 60% or 70% off the retail price, but how accurate is that? Would you really be paying the retail price anywhere else anyway? You can easily find out with just a couple clicks. There are smartphone apps such as ShopSavvy and RedLaser that allow you to compare prices online, so you can see how much you’re really saving.
4. Do your research beforehand.
Before you visit an outlet mall, take the time to visit the website first and see all the sales and deals. That way, you can get a feel for the types of items you’ll encounter and maybe even be able to so some quick price comparisons before you leave your home. That way, you won’t feel pressured to buy an item you really want because you’re afraid it might be more expensive elsewhere. As an added bonus, you may even be able to find coupons online, which will enhance your experience even more.
5. Shop off-season.
Source: Biz Journals
For the best discounts, buy your clothing when you don’t need it. Stores want to unload their inventory of swimsuits in the fall, when the weather is cooler. That’s when you’ll see the biggest discounts. The same goes for coats and other winter items. Shop in the spring, when the weather gets warmer, and you’ll save big.
6. Don’t shop during peak times.
Avoid outlet stores in the evenings and weekends because that’s when everyone is there shopping. If you can, shop on weekdays in the mornings and you’ll avoid the crowds. You’ll have a less stressful shopping experience because you won’t have to deal with long lines.
7. Find the best deals in the corners of the store.
Source: Le Hoarder
When you enter a store, you’ll be greeted by bright displays of merchandise. This is the stuff the store wants you to buy because it’s the most expensive. If you’re looking for the deals – and who isn’t? – resist the temptations at the front of the store and move toward the back – specifically the corners. This where you’ll find the clearance racks.
8. Check the return policy.
The return policies at outlet stores are not very liberal. They may give you a month or maybe only a couple weeks to return an item if you’re satisfied with it. That’s not a lot of time especially if you’re traveling from out of town. Because you’re purchasing deeply discounted items, they may be final sale items, meaning there’s no returning them at all. That means if you buy it, you’re stuck with it. With that said, make sure the item is something you really want. If it’s clothing, try it on and make sure it absolutely fits. There’s no room for regrets.
9. Sign up for emails.
Sales are common at outlet stores because a small percentage of the inventory is factory seconds. But these sales aren’t advertised, so the only way you’ll find out about them is by signing up for emails. You can sign up for the mall’s email list and email lists for specific stores. By signing up for email lists, you’ll be in the know about sales and even receive coupons and special offers on a monthly basis. You can use this information to plan your next trip to the outlet mall and save big.
Outlet shopping can be a fun distraction from your usual shopping routine. You’ll enjoy seeing what other stores have to offer while finding the best deals possible. Just don’t make any assumptions. Don’t plunk down money on anything just because you’re at an outlet store and you think it should be a good deal. That’s a common spending trap. By following the tips above, you’ll get more for your money and have a fun shopping experience the next time you visit an outlet mall.