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What to Buy When Outlet Shopping

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Outlet shopping is great. It puts high end labels within reach of the average income consumer like you and me. Not every deal is a good one, though. Here’s what to keep an eye out for when hitting up the outlet malls. 

Outlet shopping can be fun, especially when you score hot deals on designer goods. Outlet stores often carry styles that aren’t current season, or may be from the same season last year. Sometimes the merchandise is slightly imperfect like a label in the wrong spot or a seam may be slightly off, but things like that no one’s going to see, but there are some things you need to be on the lookout for so you’re not left holding the bag.

Going on vacation? Need some new beach wear? Many beach and resort wear companies sell their inventory at outlet stores to unload previous season merchandise that’s “out of style”, but who cares? No one is going to know. Just be careful, though because some manufacturers make merchandise specifically for the outlets and may use lower quality fabrics and materials, so the deal may not always be a deal. At one outlet store, I was able to find a cover up, a tote and shoes that matched a swimsuit I bought at another retailer. The outlet total for the cover up, tote and shoes was less than what the swimsuit cost on sale.

I am the highness of handbags. My collection is fantastic. From decorative and whimsical, to functional and compact, I have a closet full of bags and I never paid retail price for any of them, thanks to outlet shopping. Again, many handbag designers manufacture bags specifically for the outlet, so you and I can own fantastical bags without the outrageous price tag. When you look at the tag and the suggested retail price says $350, but they’re selling it for $85, it likely was never, ever on a shelf for $350. Oh, it’s really the designer and not a knock off, but it may lack the high quality exterior hardware found on the original bag and the zipper may be stainless steel and not titanium, but putting it next to an identical bag, the average consumer likely won’t be able to tell the difference. That’s because the designers don’t want to tarnish their brand, they just want to get it into more hands. The only difference you’ll probably truly notice is the extra $265 in your wallet.

Kids clothing can cost a fortune, I don’t have to tell you that. Some kids clothing companies (Gap Kids, Gymboree, etc.) have merchandise that they manufacture specifically for outlet malls, but one brand (Carter’s) takes the approach of opening a factory store at the outlet malls. The factory store offers the same products as the regular retailer, but the factory stores are often bigger with a better selection and lower prices, but not as low as many outlet stores, so to compensate, they have sales all the time and offer coupons to use on top of sale and outlet pricing. They offer even deeper discounts on Facebook.

A word of caution if you’re going to be outlet shopping: Inspect your merchandise carefully as sales at outlet stores are usually labeled “All Sales Final” and you won’t be able to get your money back.

What’s Your Favorite Outlet Store?

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