By LEAH VAN LOON
Is this really a great deal? Did that come from the mainline store? These tips will help you balance bargains versus style at discount department stores:
Everyone loves getting a good deal so it’s surprise that Calgary has seen some new department store outlets open in the last few years, most notably Nordstrom Rack and Saks Off Fifth. Add to it the name recognition of large department stores selling big name designers and the expectations grow even higher. So what should you expect from shopping at a department store outlet?
While the main department stores have a very set program of sale periods and discount promotions, the outlets have new merchandise coming in all the time. They also have their own sale schedule and clearances for even deeper discounts. At first glance the price may seem right, but it pays to remember that designer items sent to the outlet from the main store are not in season, which is one reason you are getting a deal.
Other reasons why you could find a previously regular-priced item at an outlet might be overstock, fit or quality issues, a strange colour, style or print, it was overlooked in a stockroom, or it was altered for a customer and the store ended up with it. Surprisingly, only around 20 percent of items at an outlet are actually goods that were for sale at a mainline store at full price and are now marked down. Many pieces are even made directly by designer brands for the department store outlets using less expensive materials and inferior construction to provide that brand name for less — so if you are seeing a price for you to compare it to, it may not be a sale price versus a regular price so much as a reminder of what the brand’s clothing usually sells for at the main store.
Fear not, you can still find bargains at the outlets, but the best way to get a real deal (and a deal on something real) is to also shop the regular store. Occasionally the clearance opportunities and promotions at the main store will show an even better deal on an item than when you see it at the outlet, so it pays to check in, especially at sale time. If you are familiar with the brands you can learn to recognize a bargain when you see it and even how to spot a made-directly- for-the-outlet item. You can also shop the outlets online and find items not available at your own local brick-and-mortar —just make sure you can still get a refund.
Happy shopping, and remember: it’s only a good deal if it’s something you’ll actually wear!