Outlet malls

Do outlet malls really live up to the hype?

While many retailers are closing locations, outlet malls increasingly continue to draw customers in search of bargains. But do they live up to the hype? Sometimes, yes. Other times that savings oasis may actually be more of a bargain mirage.

Here are some tips to keep more of your cold hard cash in the heat of the spending moment:

First stop, service centre. This should be your first stop. Many provide booklets of additional mall savings.

Set your limits. Rather than buying as you go, tour the mall once before deciding on the few select items that you really want. It also helps to set limits on the dollar amount you are willing to spend on those items.

Can I bring it back? Many chain stores have regular and outlet stores. The outlet store purchase may only be returnable at an outlet store which may be far from where you live (or a final purchase). Check what the policy is before you buy.

Outlet only? Many store chains have a clothing line for their regular stores and a separate line specifically for their outlet locations. The outlet store line may be of lower quality; cheaper stitching and inferior material than their regular store would carry. They may also sell slightly flawed items.  Check the manufacturing quality, carefully.

Suggested price may not be nice. Many price tags show the sale price, along with the manufacturers’ suggested selling price. The discount may look dramatic, but the list price is often only a suggestion and may be far higher than any store would actually sell it for.

Dated? While you may find some bargains, you’ll also find many fashion items that are out of date. Best to stick with classic items or to ask yourself if you will wear this 6 months from now. A study of over 2,000 women revealed that the majority of participants admitted to having never worn at least 20 percent of the items in their wardrobes (that’s equals about $500 per person).

Check the exchange rate. If you are buying abroad check exchange rates and any duties and taxes due upon your return to Canada. Use a currency converter .

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