New Ideas in Outlets
More and more outlet malls are opening all over the country. They are owned by different corporations, offer a variety of retail shops from toys to high end purses. Many have some of the same stores such as The Gap, Famous Footwear, and Carter’s to name a few. The newer outlets are now beginning to incorporate food courts and restaurants. It makes sense to keep the consumer on the property as long as possible. It is surprising that this addition to outlet shopping was so late in becoming a standard. Most people can talk themselves out of returning once they sit, enjoy a meal, and realize how much their feet are hurting, or how much money they have spent.
What do consumers think about quality and getting a good deal
People feel that they get a good deal and good savings according to Consumer Reports. Even if you factor in sales at regular stores, most of the time you can do better at the outlet. They also have sales and end of season closeouts. Shoppers have saved as much as 61% according to the research. Some retails sale stores sale imperfect goods so check the merchandise closely for imperfections. Often any imperfections are undetectable to the untrained eye.
Retail or outlet quality
Some stores will give you a hint by calling the merchandise “outlet” quality. There are special marks, often on the labels, that indicate if the merchandise was sold at high end shops. Some brand name lines have designations from dots to letters placed somewhere on the labels which indicate if the item was made for an outlet store. These items were never sold at the prices that may be indicated as original retail prices or suggested retail prices.
Now that online shopping has become more and more popular, the consumer is left to wonder if outlet shopping is even worth the trip. They can shop by dollar amount, item description, or even brand name with only a click of a mouse, but sometimes to feel the quality of a dress, shirt, or handbag makes all the difference in the world.
How invisible is the pricing? Outlet vs Factory
Many defects are not visible, but a savvy shopper will still go for it. The consumer may think it’s a better option than buying designer clothing at a high end consignment shop.
Some congressmen have begun investigating marketing practices that list clothing with misleading and untrue information. Also, they want to know if there is a difference in the terms “outlet stores,” and “factory stores.” If there are, shouldn’t consumers be made aware of this upfront? Some well know companies feel that consumers are very aware of the fact that they are not getting top of the line merchandise.
What do I buy once I get to the outlet?
Things to consider when you go shopping at an Outlet Mall.
- Look through what is in your closet. Decide on what pieces you may be missing.
- Do you homework first. Check online prices or local department stores. This is especially helpful if you are loyal to a certain brand or retail shop.
- Do you need white slacks, red shell, or maybe a neutral sweater to add if the weather doesn't co-operate?
- Decide which item(s) are needed immediately.
- If budget is not your problem, set a spending limit.
- It's tempting to buy the first items when something matches your list.
- Resist that temptation; note the store and price, or ask if the sales associate will hold the item for a couple of hours. If they say no, check the sizes and try it on. The item may not look as good on as it looks on the hanger.
- Try not to spend as much time looking at the items not on the list. The only thing in your bag when you go home may be a purse which you may love, but you still don't have that shirt that was first on the shopping list.
Outlets are business, and as such, the business wants to gain and maintain a good revenue source. Big name brands did at one time stock their outlet stores with out-of-season and clearance stock. Now, many outlet stores have stock that is made specifically for the retail market. The consumer cannot always compare merchandise.
With the tightening of many Americans' purse strings, outlet shopping has become a multi-billion dollar source of new income for retailer businesses. Because many outlets are located outside large cities, consumers want to buy something to justify the trip. They may have to travel an hour or more from their homes to shop.
Even so, if they are good quality, do not have obvious flaws, or pull apart after the first wash, then most consumers will feel like they have made a purchase for something they want at a cheaper price. Most shoppers feel that the clothes and goods are of comparable quality to their local retail shops in the mall or town. Some stores, even in local markets, list prices at suggested retail prices that are not a true indication that the item ever sold at the higher retail price.
Some shops in some outlet malls offer discounts for military customers and AARP members. So, always ask about discounts. If you don’t ask, you don’t get a discount. If you do qualify, the additional savings is a major plus for shopping.
How do you feel about Outlet Malls?
Read more about outlet shopping
- Outlet Stores, Consumer Reports
Consumer Reports readers rate 58 outlet stores for value and more.
- Ask the Savvy Shopper: Are outlet malls worth the trip; what discounts are available for Busch Garde
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