Are you sick of hearing about the great deals other people get at outlet stores? Here’s how to grab the best bargains with the least amount of work.
Step 1: Think location If you’re looking for designer duds at rock-bottom prices, shop at outlet stores in more modest neighborhoods. If you’re looking for high-end career clothes, shop in blue-collar neighborhoods. In both cases, the good stuff is apt to move more slowly.
Step 2: Go online Before making the drive, check out the outlet center’s website to get the lay of the land, see what each store offers, and download coupons—often for thirty percent off or more.
Step 3: Go at the right time Head to the outlet mall on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday between nine and five. That’s when the fewest people go, so there are shorter lines and better service.
TIP: Most outlets have sales around major holidays. You’ll probably have to battle crowds, but you’ll find deep discounts.
Step 4: Head to the information center Before hitting any store, go directly to the information center or customer-service area. Most offer store coupons and even free memberships to their savings clubs, which will help you score big discounts year-round.
Step 5: Know what’s really a deal Know what merchandise to purchase. Clothing is best, since it makes its way to the outlets after just one season. The worst deals? Electronics and appliances: they’re usually priced the same as at regular stores.
TIP: Don’t shy away from clothing marked 'irregular'; the flaw is often so small it’s undetectable to the naked eye.
Step 6: Look for “exclusives” Look for clothes made specifically for the outlet store—often marked with an 'exclusive for' label. They’re the same quality you’d find at the main stores, just made from last season’s fabrics and colors.
FACT: Many outlet malls got their start as small stores adjoining warehouses or factories; that’s why so many of them are outside of cities.