You’re driving on the interstate and you spot a mall of all outlet stores. Thoughts of saving huge amounts on name brand merchandise are racing through your mind. You quickly exit the freeway and head for the mall.
As you browse through the clothes, you notice a few quality issues, but shrug it off because the items are from a major retailer and you’ll be saving big bucks on name brand items. Then you recall the article you read a few weeks ago about how shoppers are tricked into thinking they are getting quality merchandise at huge discounts at outlet stores.
Oh yea, you remember now. Buyer beware…many outlet stores advertise the latest styles and fashions, but the truth is, those deals aren’t always what they seem. People think they’re getting discounts on name brand items that were returned or didn’t sell quite the way the clothes manufacturer thought they would for the season. In truth, most of the stuff you’ll find in an outlet store was probably made by a third party vendor and not the brand itself. This usually means the clothing was hastily made, and designs are probably made with cheaper fabric, buttons, and less stitching.
It’s estimated that around 85% of the clothing in outlet stores is made specifically for those outlets. So that tag that says “originally $399” is very misleading. This video explains how some outlet stores are ripping you off, and the red flags to look for when shopping at outlet stores.
No one is suggesting that you don’t shop at outlet stores. Look closely at the goods and the quality…if your are satisfied with what you are getting for the price, then you got a good deal. Just know that you may not be getting the quality that’s advertised by the store. Here is some useful information about outlet stores and what to look for.
There Are Different Types of “Outlet Stores”
Outlet stores come in the three major varieties. You can quickly determine the quality and value they provide by knowing what type of store you’re walking into. Here’s how it breaks down:
Actual Outlet Stores: True outlet locations provide the largest potential for savings. They carry products that were originally stocked in regular retail stores. Items may be damaged or have irregularities, or may be phased out seasonal products and are priced accordingly.
Factory Stores: These locations carry merchandise made specifically for them, not items that were originally stocked elsewhere. Buyer beware: Stitching and quality of the material is second-rate and won’t last as long as you’d find in an original showroom. In other words, stuff is cheaper for a reason.
Retail Stores in Disguise: Many outlet locations are simply regular retail stores placed in outlet malls to take advantage of heavy foot traffic. Screaming deals are hard to find as the merchandise and pricing are typically identical to regular stores.
Find Different Outlet Stores On Facebook
Most outlet stores won’t accept regular issue in-store coupons. They typically have to be labeled as “outlet” coupons and can often be hard to find. You can search Google until you’re blue in the face and not find a single usable one. Instead, turn to Facebook. Search for the business page of the specific outlet location you’ll be visiting. For example, “Nike Outlet – Carlsbad Outlet Mall.” Their page will keep you in the know for outlet specific coupons, many of which will only be valid at that specific location.
Know the Return Policy
Finally, be aware of the return policy at outlet stores. They can vary wildly. Some items are final sale and others require you to return items only to the outlet location. Outlet malls are often out in the middle of nowhere, so depending on how far you drove, returning items to the actual outlet could be a painful inconvenience.