How to save when outlet shopping

Tips for Outlet Shopping

During the summer months, and especially as families prepare kids to head back to school, outlet shopping is a popular activity. Not only is it nice to walk around an outdoor mall in warm weather, but outlet stores have a reputation for lower prices, closeout sales and deep discounts.

If you're planning a destination to an outlet mall soon, whether for a new school wardrobe or just to cruise the sales, there are a few things you should know. The following tips will help you make the most of your trip and your money.

1. Know that not all stores are the same.

First things first: It's important to understand the different types of stores that appear in outlet malls. While many retailers will offer specially discounted items at outlets, others will not differ much from the typical store you find in the mall. Make sure you know what type of store you're shopping in before you buy anything that you assume is a sale price.

Outlet stories generally carry merchandise that used to be sold at the retailers' regular store, but at a discounted price. Factory stores typically sell slightly different products from the original stores, and are designed specifically to be sold at these malls. The overall look of the clothing or accessories will be similar, but with less expensive fabric or features. Factory stores are ideal for purchasing inexpensive kids clothing, or other items that you won't need to last forever.

Retail stores that are housed at outlet malls often carry the same kind of pricing that you'd see at a regular store, so use caution because you might not find any significant discounts there. And no matter which type of store you find yourself in, always head towards the back if you want to find the clearance rack.

2. Use your phone for research.

If you're wondering whether you are truly getting a great deal, you can use your smartphone to price match before you make the decision to purchase. A quick search can show you whether or not you could find an item cheaper online or at another store.

While you're on your phone, check to see if there are any mobile coupons available for the stores where you are shopping. A sale price is great, but combine that with a coupon for another 15 percent off and you'll really to start to rack up the savings. Look for coupons on the mobile website or app of your favorite money-saving resource that can be scanned right in the store. Make sure to read the terms and conditions of a coupon to know how it can be used.

You can also stop by an information kiosk when you first arrive at an outlet mall and ask if they have any print coupons available. You always want to check out all of your options before making your final purchase!

3. Leverage your timing.

An ideal time to visit an outlet mall is during a tax holiday weekend. Some states host this event in early August. You can find out if and when your state will participate by looking it up on the Federation of Tax Administrators website. It will also tell you what items are included, such as clothing, footwear or school supplies.

There are a number of holiday weekends throughout the year that make for great outlet shopping as well, such as Memorial Day, Labor Day and Black Friday. Outlet stores might even offer steeper discounts than traditional malls in order to compete for crowds. If you have a big shopping list, try to time most of the purchases around these seasonal holidays to land the best possible deals.

4. Always check for any damage.

Be careful to look over your items before you buy. Items sold in outlet stores are sometimes offered at a discount because of damages. If it is slightly damaged but you're confident you can fix it yourself without a lot of trouble, don't be afraid to ask for a lower price. If it looks like a stain or a rip that can't be fixed, then you might want to pass on the item.

If you're planning on outlet shopping this summer or on your next vacation, use a few of these tips and rest easy knowing you're getting the best discounts around!

Copyright 2015 U.S. News & World Report

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How to save when outlet shopping


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