The Secrets of Outlet Shopping

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The Secrets of Outlet Shopping
For many of us, outlet stores are a great way to get name-brand products at super-discounted prices, but what kind of quality are you really getting for your money? Here are some tips to keep in mind.

According to a recent study by Consumer Reports, 60-85 percent of the goods in many major retailer outlets are specifically made only for the outlet itself. These products are made with cheaper materials so that they can sell for less than their sturdier retail counterparts.

If you're looking for the same brand quality, you'll have to inspect things a little more closely. For instance, Banana Republic and The Gap both have three dots on the price tags of its outlet-store merchandise, while Brooks Brothers tags will have a "346" on them. Items from Coach will also be marked with an "F" in the style number.

This means if the majority of the items you're browsing are specifically made to be cheaper, then you're not really saving on the "original price." You'll see these sales a lot in outlets, so don't be fooled.

You'll also want to inspect the sewn-in tags on your merchandise. If they're sliced, marked or altered in any way, that item could very well be imperfect and unfit for retail sale. It's good practice to look closely at the stitching, too. Is there less than usual? Is the fabric a lighter weight? Is there any damage to the item? You don't want to find out these things when it's too late.

So, the next time you head to the outlets, keep your eyes peeled to ensure you get deals, not duds.

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Next: Marni
Milan, Italy

Italian Consuela Castiglioni's intellectual, artsy wares are marked down 50% or more at this suburban outlet store. Christine Low, a fashion show director, says, "I am not a very patient shopper, but I end up spending more than two hours every time I am in Milan at the Marni outlet."
For more information, visit: www.marni-international.com.

More on Marni from Forbes

Next: Woodbury Common Outlets
Central Valley, N.Y.

Here you'll find smaller labels like La Perla and Wolford alongside Burberry, Barneys and Chloe. There are also temporary clearance stores that pop-up throughout the year, offering even deeper discounts. For more information visit: www.premiumoutlets.com

More on Woodbury Commons from Forbes

Next: Joyce Warehouse at Horizon Plaza
Hong Kong

The discounted version of Joyce Ma's eponymous high-end department store rivals its pricier counterpart in popularity and urban cool. Fashion brands range from Vivienne Westwood to Jimmy Choo. For more information, call 852-2814-8313.

More on Joyce Warehouse at Horizon Plaza from Forbes

Next: Gotemba Premium Outlets
Gotemba, Japan

In the Tokyo area, Gotemba Premium Outlets boasts stores varying from upscale jeweler Bulgari to mid-level Coach to avant-garde Maison Martin Margiela.
For More Information visit: www.premiumoutlets.co.jp

More on Gotemba Premium Outlets from Forbes

Next: Prada/I Pellettieri d'Italia
Montevarchi, Italy

The inconsistency of Designer Miuccia Prada's fashion house tends to confuse less-savvy tourists. Shoppers can also find deep discounts--50% or more--on Prada's second-tier line Miu Miu.For more information visit: www.prada.com

More on Prada/I Pellettieri d'Italia
See More Top Outlets at Forbes

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Next: Top Buys at Thrift Stores
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Buying pre-owned goods at your local thrift store can yield you great bargains. But before you head out, WalletPop.com bloggers want you to keep an eye out for these 20 items: 10 to snap up and 10 to avoid!

10 Good and Bad Buys
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