I read something the other day that I thought was very simple but very profound. It was that there are only two ways to get rich. It was that you could either earn more money or save more money. Of course, there are many ways to do both. For example, if you want to earn more money you could do something to sharpen your skills such as getting a degree or an advanced degree or you could take on a second job. There are also numerous ways to save money and one of them is to shop at outlet stores. However, before you jump in your car and drive off to one of them, there are some things that you need to know. For example, there are some retailers who actually manufacture items specifically for their outlet stores and these may be of lower quality than what you would find in their regular stores.
Take a good look at the goods
According to one study I read recently, about 82% of products that are sold at outlets were manufactured exclusively to be sold there. This means that clothing and goods can vary a lot in quality so be sure to examine them carefully. In some cases, items might have tags saying “outlet” or “factory line.” It may be more difficult to spot others. Before you buy, check to see if the item feels lighter or seems to be of a lower quality
Check out prices before you shop
Once you’ve chosen an online store where you want to shop, go on the retailer’s website and look at the prices listed there. Outlet stores try to make their discounts seem as good as possible with signs suggesting that prices are maybe 65% off. However, according to Consumer Reports the average savings are nearer to 38%. If you compare the prices listed on the retailer’s website to what you see at the outlet store, you’ll have a much better understanding of how much you’re really saving.
Shop off-peak times
If you shop at off-peak times such as Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, you can avoid congestion and shelves that have been picked over. You should also shop early in the day. If you can’t do this, then avoid early afternoon shopping and wait until after dinnertime.
Checkout their retail stores first
If there are sales going on in your local mall or if you have some special coupons, shop it before you go to the outlet stores. You might find that you can pay about the same at a mall store as you would at the outlet store but get better quality
Look for outlet center circulars and coupons
Go online or call your outlet center to see if there are any coupons or circulars that would make for additional savings. You might also find that senior and military discounts are available.
Don’t be afraid to leave without buying anything
Outlet malls tend to be placed in locations that are not close to metropolitan areas. For example, our outlet mall is about 40 miles from our downtown. This means that going to the outlet mall could be a full-day trip for you. In this case, there is always the temptation to buy something just to justify the time, energy and gas you spent coming and going from the outlet mall. This can lead to buying stuff you don’t really need or spending more money than you would otherwise. Don’t buy something or spend more money just to justify the trip.
You can often get the best deals at outlet stores by shopping off-season. Buy your winter clothing in the summer and summer items in the winter. This can save you even more. And be sure to understand the store’s return policy. If you don’t want to have to make another 20 or 30 mile drive back to the store, be sure to ask about its return policy. Many of the regular stores won’t take returns from outlet stores so it’s important to know if this is the case.