In a March 20 Federal Trade Commission blog, Colleen Tressler, a FTC Consumer Education Specialist, offers tips for shopping at outlet stores.
According to the FTC, some outlet shops may sell merchandise made “exclusively for them.” Therefore, the merchandise found at some shops may not be the same as found “at non-outlet retail locations.”
Products may look similar, but there may be differences in made-for-outlet merchandise. For example, the FTC author writes that plastic might replace leather trim on a jacket, or a T-shirt may have less stitching and a lighter weight fabric.
This can produce lower prices, but overall quality may be less, as well. The FTC suggests consumers ask if made-for-outlet products are being sold. If so, determine the difference between a particular item and regular merchandise for sale, if any.
There may be no difference, or the difference may not matter to you. The overall deal could still be better. However, it makes sense to be educated.
The FTC also suggests that consumers outlet shop for off-season merchandise to often get particularly good bargains.
As with any purchase, consumers should understand a store’s return policies. Also, the agency suggests you consider asking your neighborhood retailer if it takes returns from their outlet stores.
For more information, go to www.ftc.gov (type “Outlet shopping: Getting your money’s worth” at the search engine).