Okay, it’s summertime and supposedly the living is easy.
However this cliché does not apply to shopping. Clients hire me everyday because they hate to shop. Reasons given – too many stores, too many price points, too far away, everything looks the same, I don’t have a freaking clue what I need, it’s hard to even find someone to take my money let alone help me find another size once I am naked in the dressing room, they never have my sizes, I don’t even know my sizes, they only carry my ‘special’ size (she is being kind here) online, then what the hell did I drive here for? Oh let me just stick a fork in my eye!
Outlet shopping seems passé with the onslaught of online shopping, but alas dear readers, retailers are not going to take the time to list an item online when they only have a few pieces left. This however, is the benefit of the outlet excursion – one Prada bag at 70% off is not going to show up on the Saks 5th Ave website, but it will show up in the Saks Off 5th outlet store! So it might be worth making that annual trek out to suburbia in search of fabulous finds.
Here are the ‘Top 5 Tips To Outlet Shopping’ that can make your trip a bit less painful.
Plan your strategy so you can shop with purpose!
1. PLAN THE TIMING
- Shop early – early means be in the parking lot before the stores open.
- Shop late – late means after 5pm when the senior crowd (no doubt travelling by bus) has had dinner and is on their way home to watch Wheel of Fortune.
- Plan the day of the week – obviously the weekends are the most unpleasant time to pick, unless you like standing in line just to use the rest room.
2. PLAN THE PARKING SPACE
- Pick your parking space based on where you plan to shop. No point parking near Yankee Candle if you hate the smell of Cranberry Pine wax.
- Print the mall map before you park, check off the stores you know you are going to visit and plan the parking and the exit strategy accordingly.
- Plan to move the car if necessary – often times malls are planned with anchors – their best stores are at opposite ends of the property. No point in slogging through the middle, if you are only shopping the anchors.
3. PLAN WHAT TO WEAR
- Dress comfortably in layers so you can quickly peel something off without always securing a dressing room.
- Wear comfortable shoes as this isn’t a fashion show, it’s a shopping expedition.
- Carry a bottle of water – hydration is key to creativity.
- Carry a snack such as almonds so you are not forced to buy some Fanny Farmer to avoid fainting.
4. PLAN WHAT TO BUY
- Set a budget beforehand – don’t just bring a stack of plastic – that’s a disaster waiting to happen.
- Go to the website of the stores you know you are going to shop and visit their size-chart link. Know your general sizes in those stores ahead of time so you can pull the clothing precisely. You might be a large at Ann Taylor, but you are going to be a small at Eileen Fisher! Knowledge is power and it will save you loads of frustration.
- If you know you are a petite, call ahead to see if they carry petites in that location. Some smaller stores sacrifice the petite dept based on the square footage.
- Pick a category to shop for – have a basic clue what you might need to update your wardrobe and only shop for that category. How much less painful would it be if you were only shopping for shoes and handbags? Only shopping for dresses? Only shopping for a new pair of jeans? You already feel more relaxed knowing you are not going to the candle shop if you are looking for jeans and you are not going to Victoria’s Secret if you are looking for shoes! Make it easy on yourself – break it down in advance.
- Don’t buy something with the thought that you can always return it! You know full well you would rather have it collect dust in your closet than make another trek to the Outlet Mall to make a twenty dollar return.
- Buy what you love, not what you like.
5. PLAN THE DISCOUNTS
- Check to see if you can sign up as a VIP on the Mall website before you leave the house. VIP status usually means you are signing up for their emails (you can always unsubscribe later) but you can take full advantage of the first shot of goodies! They may include a coupon book with discounts to many stores as well as first-day specials for the new VIP! Then check out the website before you leave as the stores post the daily and weekly deals right on the mall page offering both printable coupons as well as the option of scanning your phone once inside the store. If you don’t do all of these things you are leaving money on the table! Check out all of this info on the VIP signup to Simon Malls. Look at all of the benefits! Be sure to note where you can pick up your coupon book and park at that end of the Mall so you can have that in your hot little hands before you embark on your brick and mortar journey.
- Some outlet stores don’t advertise their discounts because they may decide the day before based on their weekly sales or what the store next door is offering, so call ahead and ask!
- Price matching – you don’t know if you don’t ask. If it is a name brand, many dept stores will price match a discount that another store is offering – again, just ask.
- Be a savvy shopper – know what designer pieces actually cost so you can spot a bargain or spot a ruse! Not all bargains are created equal – some outlet items are actually manufactured for the outlet store and therefore are the regular price 24/7!
- Be smart – use your Smart Phone! Unsure if it is a bargain – look it up and see how many different price points are out there in the top 5 Google hits.
Remember plan, plan, plan, so you can shop with purpose!
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Doreen Dove empowers women to use style as a tool to take strategic control of their image. She is an image consultant, personal stylist and professional speaker. Her extensive background in all aspects of retail has uniquely qualified her to work with women of all ages and professions, coaching them to personal style success.