How Much do You Really Save at Outlet Stores?

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I love four letter words. My favorites are: sale, deal and (best of all) free. Ooooh! Those words just make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

You would think that someone who loves sales and deals so much would LOVE outlet shopping right? Not so much. The sticker shock that I experienced on a recent outlet shopping trip prompted me to ask “how much do you really save at outlet stores?” So, of course, I put on my fashion nerd hat and did some research and here’s what I found.

  • Outlets and factory stores started as a way for department stores to get rid of their excess inventory
  • Outlets often carry out-of-season, flawed or items that just didn’t sell at the retail store
  • Items at an outlet may cost less, but they are often lower in quality, too
  • Some designers create lower end lines exclusively for their outlet stores
  • Some prices are essentially the same as the retail store

Don't worry! You can still get designer and name brand items for less. Here’s how:

  •  Get to know the real deal. Check out full price items in the department stores and get familiar with the look, feel and quality of construction. When the item goes on sale or shows up at an outlet, you’ll be able to tell if it’s worth the purchase.
  •  Shop the outlet for classics. Since outlets tend to have out of season items, you probably won’t find a good deal on the latest trends. Stick to more classic, timeless pieces (suits, blazers, etc.) that won’t go out of style.
  •  Don’t get outlet fever. Make sure that whatever you buy not only fits and flatters you but that it works with several items you already own. Don’t waste time and money just because it’s a “good deal”.

What say you? What are your thoughts on shopping the outlets?


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T. Espinoza is CEO at The Style Medic. She's the Diva next door, the girlfriend who always looks Fab but doesn’t spend a bundle. She works with the active, focused Diva who wants to look fly, save time and most of all, save money. T. can help you streamline your wardrobe, maximize your budget and take your style from flat-lined to FABULOUS!


  1. I’ve definitely noticed some markups at outlet stores. I don’t feel like they are what they used to be. We recently went to some outlets in SC and I can’t remember purchasing anything that was “the best deal ever”. These are great tips so I’ll be sure to keep them in mind for next time 🙂
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  2. Drea Renee


    Great post! I used to love going to Outlet stores to get a good deal, but the price points are high for out of season and or/flawed items. I still occasionally visit for things like sneakers or shoes that have a longer shelf you said, classics never go out of style. But I’m not a huge fan of Outlet shopping. Besides, the time it takes to get to some of them and the gas money spent defeats the whole purpose of going! Ha!

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