Outlet deals not always a bargain
Posted November 13, 2014
The boutique stores at Cameron Village offer a lot of unique items. Although there are sales, it's not where most people would come in search of bottom-dollar deals.
For that, many people hit outlet stores.
But are outlet buys really a bargain?
Consumer Reports surveyed about 25,000 shoppers to figure out where to find the best deals.
The stores they say offer great value are Bon Worth, Haggar, OshKosh B'gosh, Izod and L.L.Bean.
They gave other stores lower ratings, such as American Eagle Outfitters, Old Navy, Gap, Nike and Levi's.
These days, most merchandise is made especially for the outlets. But is it the same quality?
At Coach, for example, the store carries one version of the bag, and the outlet has one that's very similar.
"The retail version is made of a nice, heavy, embossed leather. It's got a rounded top, so it sits nicely, and a rounded handle, which is more comfortable, said Consumer Reports Mandy Walker. “The outlet version is a fine bag. It has a few less fine details and a flat handle."
There's a $300 difference between J.Crew's outlet ballet flats and those from its retail store.
And be aware, everything isn't cheaper at the outlets.
Corelle dinnerware is identical, yet costs more at the outlet. The same with a Revere Ware cook set.
Some outlets definitely offer bargains, but shoppers need to be careful.
Head to the back of the store first for the biggest markdowns, and if an item is damaged, always ask for an additional discount.
Consumer Reports shoppers got at least 10 percent off every time.