Need to find the perfect gift but cannot afford luxury items? Don't worry. You're not alone. Watching fashion shows on television may have given you the impression that you can't buy a decent ladies sweater for less than $200, but that's only what the high-end retailers who sponsor the show want you to think. In reality, specialty stores that carry quality and often brand name items at discounted prices, known as retail outlets, may have exactly what you need. For an overview of what you can expect from the average retail outlet store or mall, read on.
The most obvious difference you will notice between items in an outlet store and items in a standard retail store is that outlet items are almost always significantly cheaper. Buying Blackberry leather cases directly from your cell phone provider at their location in downtown Toronto's Eaton center can set you back by 50 to 100 dollars depending on the model while picking up a similar item at an outlet mall may only cost 15 to 20 dollars. For anyone who is on a budget (and with today's economy, who isn't?) outlet stores can be an absolute godsend and a way of avoiding going into debt or accepting charity.
While many outlet stores offer the exact same brands and items as normal retail stores, there is of course, a catch. The items that come into outlet stores are generally the items the company is unable to sell at its more upscale locations. This could either be because the items are last years' models, have gone out of season, or else are damaged in some way. Therefore, if you're picking up a baby feeding set at an outlet mall it's a good idea to open it up and make sure that none of the plates are cracked and that none of the utensils are missing.
There are also some kinds of outlet malls that feature knock-off brand items instead of out of date or damaged popular brands, so make sure you know which kind you are shopping at. You could be wandering around looking for birthday gift ideas for a woman when you spot a Ralph Lauren fragrance set that would be perfect. Unfortunately, if you don't notice that the packaging actually says 'Ralf Lauren' before you present her with your supposedly expensive gift; it can lead to some embarrassment. Knock-off or no-name items have their place, of course, especially if you're not a trend-setter, but you should always know what you're buying so make sure to inspect all products carefully.
One drawback to outlet shopping is that most of the items carried in the stores are clothing or household items. This is great for anyone looking for a new pair of shoes or some queen-size bed sheets but can be disappointing if you need some lumber and a several lengths of heat shrink tubing for a home renovation project. The reason that construction materials and such are not general carried in outlet malls is that if a damaged material failed and caused someone harm, the retailer could be liable.