Outlet shopping: Are you really getting a deal?
Ellenton Prime Outlets promises designer styles at outlet prices. But with high the new normal for gas prices, I've been wondering if the trip would really pay off.
Thankfully, our friends at ShopSmart, a magazine from the publisher of Consumer Reports, went undercover to retail stores and outlets, buying the same items, to do a little investigative reporting.
They found that outlet savings can add up. But you have to be careful. Here are some tips:
Quality check: Some companies, including the Gap, make lines specifically for their outlets, often of lower quality. Sometimes, but not always, you can spot the difference by checking the label. ("Factory" means made for the outlet.) An odd marking on the price may be another clue. The magazine found that items made for the Ann Taylor outlets, for example, had two little squares under the price.
Score coupons: Major outlet malls offer vouchers for additional savings if you join their loyalty clubs. Ellenton's is called "Prime My Closet."
Time your trip: Just like retail stores, outlets tend to offer bigger discounts around the holidays, if you're willing to brave the crowds. You can often see what promos are running by checking the outlet website before you leave home.
ShopSmart says outlets are especially useful for grabbing seasonal items at lower prices, especially if you're not hung up on quality. To learn more about their undercover sleuthing, check out the full article.
Do you have any outlet shopping tips?
Deal Diva Letitia
(Photo: Ellenton Prime Outlets, Times files)