Saturday, 10 January 2015

My issue with Outlet Malls

So this post is a little different from my usual type but it's something which I thought I needed to write about and a lot of people have asked about after seeing my major rant on twitter. So I thought I'd finally make a blog post about it. I have an issue with outlet stores and malls for a few reasons. This is no way me saying outlet stores and malls are bad but it's just a little thing that really annoys me. I really do love a good bargain and I shop at outlets such as York, Cheshire Oaks and all the premium outlet malls across the pond in the states. However I only love it if I'm getting my penny worth and that is the thing that is bugging me here. How good are the discounted outlet retailers after all?

There's two things that grind my gear about outlets. The first is how they all state that they're such great discount buys. A while ago while shopping in the USA in an outlet mall I was thrilled to see one of my favourite stores, great I thought I'll finally get some items I had been lusting greatly after in the UK. I had been to the regular version of the store and held out know there was an outlet and luckily the stock was the exact same. So not only would I have the difference in exchange rate but the discount from outlet too. So in the outlet there I was, I found the items I wanted, but then I looked at the price ticket... it was only a $2.50 cheaper. How is that a real discount? Like practically everything, par the items on the sale rack, was only a minimal few pounds cheaper. I read up online what it takes for a store to be included in an outlet mall, and as long as the products have a discount applied from real store products it classes as outlet priced? So about £2 off can make a product an outlet product? I don't think so, I mean like 30% off is a discount price and that is not! Seeing people raving about outlets when they buying products at two pounds cheaper upsets me just because people clearly don't understand that the price isn't actually discounted that much.

But my issue doesn't end there, and this is the one that really gets me. The products can be different to the ones you see in real stores. So you see an item in the real store looking amazing in all its unlighted glory but then you head into a outlet retailed and wow, there's the same bag but with a huge discount, like £150 off the retail price. How can it be? Simply it's not. Most retail stores won't mention it but the products are different, made in different factories in different countries with different materials. The products for outlet are often cheaper for the simple reason, they're made cheaper. And sometimes there are slight difference you can clearly see such as edits on logos for outlet products. The stores will never tell you this, they want you to think it's the same product so you think you're getting a bargain, not knowing it's not even the same product but just a cheaper version made from cheaper materials. I found this on an aritlice the Daily Mail wrote about outlets and thought it was just so relevant that I needed to include it. So below are two pairs of recognisable boots and they're both sold in company branded stores.  But notice the slight differences? On the left is the shoe is the sold at the retail store for £190 while the right is sold at the outlet store for £160. There's just small differences such between the soles and the treatment of the suede overall, the right seems to be rougher all over. Once in sale the retail store price is around the same as the outlet price, if not lower. so why trade quality for price when you don't have too?

It's been quoted that some outlet stores stock  between 65% and 75% of made-for-outlet merchandise while other, high end retailers have been quoted to carry up to 85% of made-for-outlet stock! Now I'm not telling you to boycott outlets, not at all. If you find a good buy then grab it because stores do sell on their unsold stock from sales. I'm just telling you to shop with caution. Know the products from the official stores and see how they compare because you can spot the difference between the two.

Seeing numerous people spending hundreds of pounds for products which are clearly different to the store ones makes me really angry. Clearly most of these people believed they were grabbing an amazing bargain because they didn't know that outlets often doesn't stock the same product. Stores should have to declare this but they don't and just let people me ignorant about what really they're buying. When a sale product is the same price in the retail store as the year round outlet one then why would you want to buy a cheaper product which is clearly made for outlet? Just google it to see the differences between some Outlet products and their official retailer counterparts. I hope this helps people realise about outlet malls, just be smart with your bargains. Until I learn't about this I'd snap up any buy I saw at outlet malls not even considering the price because I thought I was getting a discount, I still buy at outlet stores but I just consider the price for quality a lot more nowadays and I hope this will help others to do the same. I just want people to be more careful and educate themselves before you rush to buy thinking your grabbing a huge bargain. 

What's your thoughts on Outlet stores? Did you realise products were made for outlet? Will it change the way you shop at outlet stores?
Let me know in the comments below. 

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