Q:

How can you get the best bargains when shopping at outlet stores?

A:

Quick Answer

Get the best bargains from outlet store shopping by comparing prices to know whether a bargain at an outlet store is really a bargain, finding out if the item was made to be sold only at the outlet mall, and heading for the clearance racks. Additional tips include shopping off-season and off-hours, and signing up for the outlet store's mailing list.

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Full Answer

Items sold in outlet stores are not always cheaper than at a regular store. To find out if a purported bargain at an outlet store is really a great deal, customers can first comparison-shop using smartphone apps such as RedLaser and ShopSavvy. SmartMoney estimates that 82 percent of outlet store items are priced less because they are cheaper, lower quality counterparts of regular store items. Consumers satisfied with them can go ahead and make a purchase; however, those looking for higher quality items can skip the outlet stores.

The clearance racks hold big bargain items with huge price discounts because the outlet store is getting rid of them. Head to the far corners of the store where they are found. Shopping for items off-season also delivers bargains because outlet stores want to move the inventory out by greatly slashing the prices. For example, shop for winter coats in the spring or buy swimsuits in the fall.

Shopping during off-hours when there is less customer traffic, such as during weekdays when everyone else is at work, saves customers time, energy and patience. Signing up for the outlet store's mailing list also alerts customers about occasional B-stock or "factory seconds" specials. Only by doing due diligence on price, quality and timing can customers reap the full benefits of outlet store shopping.

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