Shop Wisely and Save More at Outlet Stores

outletshop_smCentral Valley and Southern California residents are eagerly waiting for doors to open at the new Outlets at Tejon, the Golden State’s biggest outlet mall, on Thursday, Aug. 7. Featuring more than 70 stores and restaurants, including H&M, Aeropostale, Nike and the only Pottery Barn Outlet store in California, this new discount retail center is expected to attract millions of bargain shoppers from near and far.

While outlet stores offer shoppers the chance to scoop up merchandise at reduced prices, many people get overwhelmed by the deals and end up overspending. To keep your budget in check, learn how to navigate outlet sales with these wise shopping tips.

List and plan.
Always devise a shopping plan when heading to any outlet mall to save time and money. Create a list of items you would like to purchase and take a survey of your closet and home before you go so you don’t end up doubling up on items you already own. Review the store directory online and map a shopping route to avoid unnecessary stops where you may be tempted to buy on impulse.

Check with the staff.
Merchandise sold at outlets may be manufactured specifically for the discount store, which means lower quality. If you’re unsure, ask the staff if the goods are made for the outlet store or if they’re excess inventory from the retailer. Since many of us are tempted to buy goods we perceive are a really great value, making this distinction will help you separate the real deals from the duds.

Review the return policy.
Return policies differ from store to store, so review them thoroughly before checking out. While some stores offer an extended window of time to make a return or exchange, others restrict the return period to 30 or 60 days, or may only offer exchanges. If you live far from the outlet center, you could end up with a heap of items you don’t want and can’t return which is a total waste of money. What’s more, most retailers won’t accept returns or exchanges from their outlet shops.

Look for coupons.
Many outlet stores offer coupons which can be stacked with sales for a deeper discount. Check the outlet center’s website or sign up for their rewards program like the Tejon Outlet VIP program to receive exclusive offers via email. You can also access such deals on your smartphone using the Coupon Sherpa mobile coupon app. Currently, Coupon Sherpa offers deals like 15-percent off at the Adidas Outlet, or buy four items, get one free from the Banana Republic Factory Store.

Pay with cash.
The best way to avoid overspending and prevent impulse shopping is to leave your credit cards behind! With cash, spending more than you intended requires going to a bank or ATM. For most, this provides time to reconsider the purchase and whether their budgets can handle any extra strain. Plus, it’s harder to part with actual dollars.

Buy off-season.
Though everything seems like a huge bargain at these outlet stores, there are some items that are an even better buy. You’ll always find the cheapest prices on end-of-season goods with heavy markdowns. Now is the best time to buy summer clothes and accessories on clearance like shorts, dresses and sandals. Since you and your family can wear these items through the fall, it will give you time to shop for fall and winter clothing when the holiday sales roll around.

Andrea Woroch

Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert who regularly contributes to leading national and regional news stories. She has appeared on NBC's Today Show, Dr. OZ, Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, MSNBC, CNN, ABC News with Diane Sawyer, and been quoted in New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine, Kiplinger Personal Finance, Better Homes & Garden and many others. Andrea also enjoys writing articles for various personal finance and lifestyle websites and blogs. Andrea is passionate about sharing ideas and tips to help you live on less without having to sacrifice. She says making a few small tweaks to daily and monthly spending is all you need to do to achieve your dreams within your means. Follow Andrea on Facebook and Twitter for daily savings tips and check back for new videos, magazine stories and blog posts all about saving money!

Save for the things that matter

Without giving up the things you love

Want your family’s financial future to feel safe and secure? Download my Easy Family Budget Worksheet and take control of your family’s finances in just 10 minutes!