When you think of bargain shopping, chances are that outlet stores come to mind. There is good reason for this. While it isn’t always the case, outlet stores tend to be less expensive than retail stores. In fact, you can often find a product that is virtually identical to an item from a retail store at less than half the price.
For example, NBC’s TODAY recently did a segment on this topic, highlighting a men’s suit. The original suit from a big-name retailer cost $923. An identical suit from an outlet store was priced at $369. That’s a 60% difference.
Later in this segment, people on the street were asked to identify the difference between clothing and accessories purchased at a retail store and an outlet store. Most consumers were not able to tell the difference.
You may not find this surprising. After all, outlet stores sell overstocked and out-of-season merchandise, as well as “seconds,” from those big-name retailers, right? Not necessarily.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), most of the products found in outlet stores are made specifically for outlet stores. The same report from the FTC suggests that this could mean that products from outlet stores may be of lower quality. The report states, “For example, plastic might replace leather trim on a jacket, or a t-shirt may have less stitching and a lighter weight fabric.”
What does this mean for you? Be wise with what you purchase. Chances are that if something is cheaper, it’s cheaper for a reason. If you have questions about a product, ask a sales representative. Knowledge is power.
Discovering that screaming deal at an outlet center can be a real thrill. However, make sure you understand what you’re getting for your money.