Hi everyone! This week I’m welcoming Jason Feller from Dealspotr with a guest post about saving money at the outlets (yay…just in time for the holidays)! If you haven’t checked out his site yet, you might want to take a look. He finds the best deals from all your favorite stores so you don’t have to.
While they once were a best-kept secret of bargain shoppers, outlet stores are now entering the mainstream and gaining popularity among all kinds of shoppers. Outlet stores are becoming so popular that many retailers are debuting their own versions—Macy’s will roll out its flagship outlet store Macy’s Backstage with multiple locations around New York City in the next few months, and Kohl’s recently opened an outlet store in New Jersey called Off-Aisle by Kohl’s. Clothing stores aren’t the only ones jumping on the outlet store trend: Whole Foods is experimenting with 365 by Whole Foods Market, an outlet-style grocery store with discount prices.
These new outlet stores are in addition to longtime favorites such as Nordstrom Rack, which has been around since Nordstrom launched it in 1973, and Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, which first opened in 1992. Other outlet staples, including L.L. Bean and Coach, are continuously successful and add to the outlet store craze.
Even though there is a definite draw with outlet stores and shoppers know they can get a good deal, most people don’t know how to maximize their outlet savings. A common idea is that anything you buy at an outlet store is guaranteed to automatically be a great bargain, but that isn’t always true. In fact, novice outlet shoppers can practically mitigate the benefits of outlet shopping if they don’t know what they are doing. Make the most of your outlet store shopping experience and score the best deals possible with these five outlet store savings tips.
[bctt tweet=”Money saving tips for shopping the outlets…just in time for the holidays!”]
Shop During Peak Sales Seasons
Outlet stores are known for taking advantage of big shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday by offering amazing deals. Unlike traditional stores who may only offer a few doorbuster deals that sell out quickly, the deals at outlet stores are typically storewide and last all day. Although Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the peak of outlet shopping discounts, most outlet stores also offer great discounts over almost every three-day holiday weekend, such as President’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day.
Shop the Seconds and Clearances Sections
Many items at outlet stores are considered “seconds”: items that have small defects, like a slightly faded color or a small tear that don’t affect the performance of the item but that lead to significantly reduced prices. Shopping the seconds area can lead to big savings as long as you carefully examine each item of clothing to make sure the defect won’t effect how you wear it. If you aren’t sure how to check the quality of clothes, follow these suggestions by US News & World Report.
Just like traditional stores, outlet stores almost always have a clearance section for extra savings. Clearance items at outlet stores are typically older models from past years and seasons, which is why they are cheaper. Outlet stores are also anxious to save on shelf space, so they will continue to discount items that aren’t selling in order to incentivize customers to buy them. Most outlet clearance sections are located in the back or the side of the store, but some stores mix the items throughout the regular merchandise; check with a sales associate if you aren’t sure.
Use Coupons and Promo Codes
There tend to be rumors floating around that outlet stores don’t accept coupons or promo codes, but it turns out that most stores, especially larger stores, actually do allow customers to apply extra discounts to their purchases. In some cases, the coupons at outlet stores are better than the coupons for regular stores, like when the Adidas outlet releases a promo code that gives a deeper discounts than you could get for the same product from a sporting goods store. If you live near a large outlet mall, be sure to check coupons in the mail and on social media, especially during the holiday shopping season, as many malls release coupons that are good at any store in the mall.
Always Price Check
According to Real Simple magazine, outlet stores have earned a reputation for using shifty pricing strategies to trick customers. One of their most common techniques is to make up inflated regular prices and then advertise “huge markdowns” that don’t mean anything. But with the help of sites like Amazon, you can quickly and easily fight these false pricing schemes. When you’re at the outlet store, run a quick search on your smartphone through Amazon or Google Shopping to see the prices for similar items; you’ll quickly know if you are actually getting a good deal at the outlet store or not. Don’t worry about matching the exact details and specifications of the product, because in many cases the outlet product is lower quality and should cost less anyway.
Check the Return Policy
Most shoppers are familiar with robust and open return policies at their favorite stores that make it easy to return an item for a refund or store credit, but these policies typically don’t apply to outlet stores. Because many items at outlet stores are older, may have a defect, or could be made of lower-quality materials, many stores offer a very limited return policy, if there is a return policy at all. Before purchasing anything at an outlet store, be sure to check if the item can be returned or exchanged. Don’t assume the parent store will easily take a return from their outlet counterpart, as many stores follow the example of Saks Fifth Avenue: items purchased from the Off 5th outlet store must be returned at an Off 5th location, not at the traditional Saks stores.
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