Outlets are shopping centres promoted as offering huge savings on RRP (recommended retail price) from your favourite high-street and luxury fashion brands year-round. When going to an outlet centre, there is an assumption that you are getting good deal. Afterall, when you see an orange or red ‘sale’ sticker, a slash through an original price with a new handwritten one in its place, it can be easy to assume you really are getting a good deal, everything is designed to be in sale and on offer. But does that mean you’re getting a good price really? Let’s take a look…

Location matters

When visiting any outlet centre, you’re likely to see brands and retailers that are both ‘home-based’ and international. Yet, where a company holds its head office, and potentially manufacturer their goods, has an influence on the price you pay and therefore the discounts you receive.

For example, Ralph Lauren is a common retailer found at the outlets. As a US company that manufacturers its clothing in both Italy and China, they’ll be subject to import fees and subject to charging customers VAT on their goods if at a UK outlet. Likewise, if you were to find a Mulberry outlet at an American outlet centre, they would have to pay to import the goods to these outlet stores. These costs have to be passed on, and it is the customer who ends up paying it.

If you want to get a good deal at the outlets, focus on location-specific brands for the best deals.

It doesn’t mean you won’t find a good deal with an international brand, though few and far between, there are occasions, whether it’s a stock shifting exercise or a last sale attempt, they will heavily discount an item rather than risk losing the inventory value.

It’s not always ‘on sale’

Although outlets are geared towards savings, deals and last chance sales, some outlets do use the floor space as an opportunity to promote and sell their latest collections. Often, you’ll find a ‘new in’ section and these items will most certainly not be reduced, even at an outlet. Be cautious of such items as you’ll be paying the RRP price.

It’s also worth noting that sometimes, these ‘new in’ items aren’t even in sections. Some outlets operate on offering discounts on certain items, in certain sections and the rest is full price (I’ve experienced this at a Ralph Lauren outlet in the US!). In these stores there is a lot more work on the customer to spot the deals; they’re not noted on the tags, instead, the offers are often promoted on the shelves above the items which can make it quite confusing.

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Ask for a better price

Sometimes you have to coax a deal from an outlet store. In addition to the promotions offered in store, it is also worth asking the cashier if there are any additional discounts available. It may be that the centre itself is running a special promotion or event (definitely worth checking their website, or visiting the shopping centre information desk to find out), or the store may give additional discounts if you’re wiling to share an email address, for example. It can’t hurt to ask, you don’t ask you don’t get, right?

Price check

If you want to be sure you’re getting a good price, it’s always worth doing a quick Google search. 9 times out of 10 you will be unlikely to find the item in question, as at outlet stores the items their housing are from previous collections, brought over from different stores, or made especially for the outlets and so won’t come up in search. And, generally speaking, you’ll know if it’s a price you’re comfortable with, but it can’t hurt doing a quick Google search for those seemingly more expensive items just to see if you are getting a good price, or certainly a price you’re happy with.

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