When I was in college, my family loved to go shopping at the outlet stores since there was an outlet mall not too far from my parents house. We were able to pick up some great deals.
However, while we were shopping, we had to be careful, since not everything is a good deal in an outlet store (no matter how much the store tries to convince you). Here are some of my best tips for how to save money shopping at Outlet Stores:
- Outlet Store, Factory Store vs. Retail Store - You'll find the best deals at Outlet Stores since they typically stock discontinued items on deep discount. Factory Stores typically carry products designed specifically for sale at a Factory Store and might not be the same quality as the regular store. Plus, there are retail stores, which are basically normal stores within the outlet store. You'll likely not find any better deals than if you shopped there in your local mall.
- Check for Coupons - Before you head out shopping, check the outlet mall's site and the retailer's sites (or their Facebook pages) for coupons. You can also stop by the mall office when you arrive to ask for coupons. If you print coupons directly from the retailer, you'll need to check the fine print to be sure that you can use them in an outlet or factory store.
- Compare Prices - Don't be dazzled by the signs shouting 75% off on the racks. It's not likely that you're really saving that much. If have a smartphone, compare the prices on the items in the outlet store with those on the website to see if you're really saving money.
- Shop Sale Weekends - Similar to regular retail malls, the outlet malls have big sales over holiday periods like Memorial Day weekend, 4th of July, Labor Day weekend, and the weekend after Thanksgiving. Just be prepared for the crowds!
- Shop the Clearance Racks - Just like in a regular store, you're going to find the best deals on the clearance racks. You do have to spend more time digging to find a jewel, but it can be worth it with a huge discount. You'll likely get the best deals on off-season clothes.
- Don't Feel Pressured to Buy - Just because you drove a longer distance to shop at the Outlet Mall, don't feel like you have to buy something if you don't find anything worth buying.
- Be Aware of the Return Policy - Before you buy, be sure you check the return policy just so you know. Some items may be final sale with no returns accepted. Or you may only be able to return items to the outlet store (possibly adding another longer trip back).