THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE SEE MY DISCLOSURES. FOR MORE INFORMATION.
I’m not a huge fan of clothes shopping, but at the same time, I don’t despise it either. I usually will wait until I need some items, stock up and be done with it. My trips usually start out at my local shopping mall where I will buy items depending on how great of a discount I get. From there, I’ll go shopping at outlet mall near my parents and pick up a few more items.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that shopping at outlet malls isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Everywhere you read, people are raving about the prices and deals. Yes there are deals, but many times, they are not as good as you might think. Below is a list a handful of things to keep in mind when shopping at outlet malls.
Table of Contents
Shopping At Outlet Malls – Things To Know Before You Buy
Prices Aren’t Dirt Cheap
If you are going shopping at outlet malls hoping to get a $500 pair of jeans for $10, you are out of luck – you aren’t going to find that great of a deal. But for the most part, the price of items will be cheaper than in the regular store.
Case in point: I shop at Banana Republic. When I walk into their regular store, a dress shirt ranges from $50 to $80. At the outlet mall, the store has shirts for $40 plus a discount. I can usually get my dress shirts for around $25.
Not All Coupons and Gift Cards Work
If you can’t sleep at night, you might try reading the fine print on the back of your gift cards. Some gift cards and coupons state that they are not valid at the outlet store. So before you think you are going to get an excellent deal, make sure you read the fine print. In many cases, the store has separate coupons specifically for their outlet stores. Nothing is worse than loading up on clothes and then at the register finding out the coupon isn’t valid.
If you go the mall and see a great shirt and think you’ll just go to the outlet store and get it cheaper, think again. Rarely does the outlet store have the same items.
When I shop at Banana Republic, I almost never see the same items in both stores. Many times it is merchandise made specifically for the outlet store. Other times it is last season’s leftovers.
Just recently I was looking for new winter jacket. I found one I loved made by The North Face. Instead of buying it, I took a trip over to the outlet mall where there is a North Face store. When I walked in I was greeted with completely different merchandise. When I asked the clerk about the model of jacket I was looking for, he said they didn’t have it.
As mentioned above, some stores make merchandise specifically for the outlet stores. To offer the lower price, the manufacturer will use a lower qualify material. Don’t let this worry you too much. I have not had any issues with the clothing I buy at the outlet stores. If it is a store you have never heard of before, you may want to be a bit hesitant. But a store like Calvin Klein is not going to let their brand be destroyed by using material that is not close to what they use in their main stores.
But with that said, it is important to take note of the clothes in the regular store before heading to the outlets. When I was shopping for a polo shirt, I found the outlet mall version to be very thin and light compared with the store at the regular mall. Same thing for a t-shirt.
I was looking for some low price shirts for working out and doing things around the house in. At the mall, the shirts were $20 and up. At the outlets, the price was $7 but they were so thin they might as well have been an undershirt. It wouldn’t have lasted a year before completely falling apart.
Additionally, sometimes the items in the outlet store are there because they are damaged goods. Usually it is a very slight imperfection, but big enough to warrant it unsellable at the main store. Be sure to look over the item in question to see any possible defects before buying.
Know The Return Policy
Unlike stores in the shopping mall where as long as the tag is still attached you can return the item, outlet malls are a little different. Many still honor the new with tag return, but others only offer a 90-day or 120-day return. Some don’t allow any returns whatsoever. This is especially true on final markdown or clearance items. Make sure before you purchase something that you are aware of that stores return policy.
Overall, shopping at outlet malls can yield some great savings. You just have to know what you can expect going in and don’t go in thinking that you can’t find a better deal someplace else. With all of the coupon sites online along with free shipping, many times, shopping online will get you as good of a deal or even better than when shopping at outlet malls. At that point, the key then is to actually sock away the money you saved as opposed to spending it elsewhere.
Readers, what deals do you find when shopping at outlet malls?
I have over 15 years experience in the financial services industry and 20 years investing in the stock market. I have both my undergrad and graduate degrees in Finance, and am FINRA Series 65 licensed and have a Certificate in Financial Planning.
Visit my About Me page to learn more about me and why I am your trusted personal finance expert.