Are Outlets Really a Bargain?

Did you know that the sales figures for outlet malls are 90% higher today (per square foot) than the traditional mall? In hope to find their brand name items for bargain prices, many shoppers are flocking to outlet malls these days.

Outlet malls were originally a place for retailers to sell excess or damaged goods. As time went on however, desire for brand name apparel at outlet prices soon began to outstrip supply. The advent of the internet has made it easier for folks to keep up with the latest trends in all areas of the country and made demand even higher for high-quality, designer goods. With all this increasing demand, especially in our current economy, stores began manufacturing a separate brand for their outlet stores. Most goods sold at outlet stores today are new products that were never on the floor of a major brand store.

Outlet malls

While discounts can still be had for these outlet manufactured goods, the name tag does not necessarily equate quality any longer. Coach, a major player in the separately-manufactured items for the outlet mall, is a brand that with a simple Google search yields plenty complaints on the inferior quality of their outlet goods. I can speak from my own experience about clothing I purchased at the Banana Republic Factory Store—a super cute dress I fell in love with was fraying with one wear.

Why if the quality can be sub-par, do people still shop in droves at outlet malls? A lot of their customers don’t know the difference. Store outlets depend on their customer’s inability to be able to discern a difference between the Gap shirt at a store and the Gap Outlet shirt. If you try to return an outlet item to a traditional store, only then do you realize that your clothing item isn’t exactly the same as most traditional stores do not accept outlet returns. Banana Republic and the Gap, for instance, have three squares/diamonds on their clothing tags to differentiate it from their regular stores.

What further increases sales at outlet malls is their big discounts (50% Off Entire Store!) with high MSRPs convincing customers they’re getting steals. When you’re saving money according to a tag, you’re doing well! Plus, the far-out location only makes a person want to spend even more. Why pay a toll to cross the Lincoln Tunnel and drive an hour to the Woodbury Commons Premium Outlet in Central Valley, NY if you’re going to leave empty handed?

Fear not shopper, if you’re a fan of the outlet malls. This article isn’t here to speak of their evils, but to shed light on their less-than-honest practices. If you’re aware of the differences in outlet products and are buying the clothing based on your budget and not the supposed quality, shop away. Outlet malls will continue to be places to find clothing at affordable prices, especially if you catch store sales on already clearance items. Outlet malls can ensure you can buy gifts for all those on your holiday list without breaking the budget.

Readers: Are you a fan of the outlet mall? How often do you you go and what do you generally buy? Have you been disappointed or pleasantly surprised by your outlet finds?