There are few forms of shopping I enjoy more than outlet shopping. There is something about all of those discount stores packed so closely together that makes me super excited!
But I am not going to tell you that all outlet stores are a good deal, because some of them are not. Also, brands sometimes create cheaper items to sell specifically in their outlet locations, and those are not always a smart buy. But for the most part, outlet malls are still an excellent way to save some money while picking up items for the entire family.
Here are five ways to make the most of your trip to an outlet:
1. Figure out the outlet 'brand.' There are a couple of management companies that own quite a few outlet malls in the United States, including Premium Outlets (SPG) and Tanger Factory Outlet Centers (SKT). Before heading out, be sure to check the website for the entire outlet mall for any possible deals or coupons. Premium and Tanger Outlets also have Facebook (FB) pages where they will occasionally post coupons that you can print from home.
2. Look for an outlet discount card or VIP program. Many outlet malls have VIP savings programs that can save you big bucks throughout the year and also give you special access to new promotions and sales. The Fashion Outlets of Chicago opened last year and offer a Green Savings Card that costs $5 for a yearly membership. Those with a Green Savings Card receive extra discounts at a huge number of stores and restaurants in the mall, which is on top of the already low prices.
3. 'Like' the outlet store on Facebook. If there is an outlet store that you frequent, go ahead and like its Facebook page so that you will be one of the first to know about sales and promotions. The Kate Spade Outlet (KATE) will frequently post promotions to Facebook before emailing subscribers. The J. Crew Factory Store has offered special promotions that are valid only to their Facebook fans.
4. Register for store emails. Not all outlet stores have their own web page, but if they do, be sure to register for emails. The Gap Outlet (GPS) is one of my favorite stores because the prices are usually low and they frequently email out coupons for additional savings. Late last year I received a coupon for an extra 50 percent off my entire Gap Outlet purchase. The Banana Republic Factory Store and Coach Factory Store (COH) also frequently send out high value coupons over email.
5. Use in-store coupons. Sometimes one of the easiest ways to save is to look for in-store coupons right when you walk into a store. Almost every time I walk into a Last Call by Neiman Marcus outlet store I am handed a coupon that will save me an extra 10 to 20 percent off my entire purchase. These coupons aren't always available, but it is great when they are, especially when they can be combined with other in-store promotions.
With these five tips, you will be on your way to saving even more the next time you visit your local outlet mall.
Lisa Koivu is the founder of ShopGirlDaily.com, a shopping blog for women who want to have the best for less.