Not Impressed By Outlet Malls
I am not a big fan of shopping at outlet malls and here’s why. Note that I’m mostly referring to the Banana Republic Factory Store, since I was at it recently. I think these things are true for other stores, but I don’t have explicit knowledge.
1. They are typically far away and I’m all about convenience. I have a zillion stores in a 5 mile radius, I’m not driving to outlet malls without a good reason.
2. Most of the clothing in the stores was NEVER sold in the mall stores. I hear people say that they are “last season” or clothes with inconsistent sizing. In reality, most of it is made specifically for the factory outlet stores. At BR outlet, things made for the exclusively for outlet have 3 dots on the tag beneath the label of “Banana Republic”. Last weekend, I did not find a single item in the outlet store without three dots on the tag.
The styles are often very similar/identical, but the quality and fabric is often not the same. I noticed this at the BR outlet I visited shortly after being in the real store. This is OK if you judge the material to be sufficient for your needs, but just be an educated consumer and know what you are getting. It is NOT the same dress you saw in the BR store.
3. There are some cute things at good quality, but the prices are higher to match. The only things I tried on and liked were things that were in the ballpark of what I’d pay at the regular store. My friend put back a $50 top at the register because she had assumed it would be $20-$30, just because it was at the outlet. There are some nice things, there are some cheap things, but I didn’t find anything cheap AND nice.
4. The pricing system can be confusing. Besides everything having a supposed discount from the BR store, the outlet mall was filled with random signs for various racks being 10%, 20%, 40% or even 50% off. It was confusing to keep track of how much things were, and I think it was intentional.
I treat shopping at the outlet malls much like shopping at lower end stores like H&M, Target, or Old Navy. I’ll do it occasionally to get some lower budget style/freshness in my wardrobe. However, I have to be picky about fit and keep in check expectations for longevity of a piece. More often than not, I’m happier shopping sale racks at my favorite stores.
How about you? Are you a fan of factory stores? How do you make sure you get the best value for your money?