By Colleen Tressler
FTC Consumer Education Specialist
July 11, 2019 2:00 p.m.
For many of us, it just wouldn’t be a summer beach vacation without shopping at the local outlet mall. Over the years, we’ve picked up a few tips for outlet shopping.
Make a list of the stores you want to visit. Next, check out the retail prices of items you want to buy. Don’t have time? There are apps that can compare prices for you, or you can visit the regular retail stores websites. If you’re only saving a few dollars at the outlets, you may want to buy at the regular stores, especially if quality matters.
Take a good look at what you’re buying.Many stores sell products at their outlets made exclusively for those outlets. These items may be of lower quality than what’s sold in the regular stores. For example, a jacket might not be fully lined, the stripes on a shirt may not match up at the seams, a t-shirt may be made of a lighter-weight fabric, and shoes might be made with synthetic materials rather than real leather. If top quality is important, you may want to shop elsewhere. But if it’s the brand, style, or look that’s key, you may be in the right place.
Pile on the savings. Look for special sales offers on outlet center websites.Student, teacher, senior and military discounts also might be available.Coupons can add to your savings. Some outlet centers also offer shopper club memberships. If you join, you’ll get information about sales, events, exclusive offers from merchants, and other perks. With some clubs, you can earn gift cards and other rewards at various “spend levels.” Just be sure to read the fine print before you get to the checkout.
Ask about return policies.Some outlet stores let you return unused merchandise any time as long as the price tag hasn’t been removed and you have the receipt. Other stores have 30- to 90-day return policies, and some don’t allow any returns. And many regular retail stores won’t take returns from their outlet stores, so ask the sales staff.
For more money-saving ideas, check out Shopping Tips.