Who doesn’t love getting a deal? We walk in our favorite store and gravitate to the signs practically glowing “CLEARANCE”. At outlet stores, these signs are in every store window proclaiming “X% OFF!”, “END OF SEASON SALE” and our mouths salivate a little. But outlets are tricky, and you have to navigate them carefully to make sure that you are in fact, getting a deal.
Outlets weren’t nearly as glamorous as they are today, they were warehouses with defective merchandise-the cheaper something was at said warehouse, the more that was wrong with it.
Today, outlets resemble malls, usually outdoors with a few stand alone restaurants and just far enough away for you to turn that shopping trip into an afternoon day-trip with your girlfriends.
Here are a few tips to know if you’re actually getting a good deal, or if overpaying at your outlet mall
While working for Nordstrom, I learned that 75% of the merchandise at Nordstrom Rack is made specifically for Nordstrom Rack. That means that just 25% of the merchandise you see in the Full-Line Nordstrom Stores makes it to Nordstrom Rack. Some of your favorite designers might make very similar products to what you see in stores, but they actually use lower quality material or thread so that they are able to send that product in at a lower price.
Same goes for outlets, according to a statistic by SmartMoney, 82% of what you see in outlets, is likely made FOR the outlet. This is where it gets tricky to decide if what you’re buying is actually worth what you’re paying.
My advice: Don’t go off of the label, but off of the quality of the material, and how well it fits you. Often it’s there because of an imperfection- is one sleeve longer than the other? Inspect the merchandise before skipping up to the counter thinking you got an amazing deal, when you could have gotten less than what you paid for.
Are you really getting a bargain? Do a quick google search on the product, or check out apps like RedLaser or ShopSavvy to compare prices. Often you will find that you can find it cheaper elsewhere, but since you see that you’re getting such a huge percentage off- you’re tricked into thinking you saved yourself a bundle.
If you are really looking to get a deal, pass all of the new arrivals with “slashed prices” and head to the actual clearance section. Sure, it will be a treasure hunt- but I have found my best deals sifting through these racks.
I was never a “coupon clipper” until I realized that almost every retailer has some coupon or another. If you can get money off of something you already plan on buying, why wouldn’t you? Outlet malls usually have mailling lists or rewards programs you can join for free. At Silver Sands Outlet in Destin, Florida, I requested a coupon book through the mall website and picked it up at the information desk. There was a coupon in there for nearly every store. Sure, 10% off any item at Kate Spade doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you’re buying a $250 purse, you will be happy with your $25 extra savings.
Outlet malls are often in far-away locations because of cheaper real-estate, so it’s fun to plan a day trip out of outlet shopping. You may find dozens of great finds, or you may find none. Ignore the impulse to spend more to make the trip feel worthwhile.
My Outlet Mall Finds at Silver Sands Premium Outlets- Destin, Florida:
I purchased all of this from the Vera Bradley Outlet for less than $60; Back-to-school tote, $20, Tumbler, $12, iPad Mini Case, $10, Curling Iron cover, $12.
What were your favorite outlet mall finds? Sounds off in the comments below!