The Secrets of Outlet Shopping -- Savings Experiment

The Secrets of Outlet Shopping
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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