Odds are, if you’re planning on going shopping on Black Friday, you’ll probably end up dashing through stores at your local mall. But did you know there’s an alternative to packed shopping malls and overflowing department stores?
If you want a shot at a great deal this Nov. 28, you may want to consider visiting an outlet mall.
Outlet Shopping on Black Friday
Major retailers aren’t the only ones who host Black Friday sales. Outlet stores – and entire outlet malls – do, too.
Outlet stores (usually congregated together in centers called outlet malls) are discounted retail locations where manufacturers sell factory-made products directly to consumers. If you know the brand and model of the item you want this holiday season – a Coach purse or Nike running shoes, for example – the specificity of an outlet store may make it a good fit for you.
Not only have outlet malls been known to host Black Friday sales in the past, but some have released details about what they have in store for this year.
The Crossings Premium Outlets in Pennsylvania, for example, has already posted some of its store-specific 2014 Black Friday deals online. They include 40-60% off the entire Tommy Hilfiger store and a doorbuster of adult footwear styles for $30 at Converse. Be sure to regularly check your local outlet center or store for upcoming Black Friday announcements.
We know that outlet mall deals on the most anticipated shopping of the year exist, but is it smart to shop them?
There are plenty of good reasons to get up early and bring your shopping list to an outlet mall this Black Friday. Here are a few of them:
- Shopping time. While all of your friends are tied up in line at Target and Best Buy, you can opt for an outlet mall instead. Outlets have been known to open just as early as traditional stores, so you won’t have to sacrifice your shopping time or your “get up early and stand in the cold” Black Friday experience for the non-big-box environment. This year, select outlet malls will even be open on Thanksgiving Day.
- More options. If you patronize an outlet mall on Black Friday, you’ll have lots of stores to choose from, all close to each other. Can’t find a pair of boots you like? Try the store next door. If you eliminate the need to drive across town between stores to cross off the various items on your list, you’ll likely be able to finish off your shopping more quickly and efficiently. Additionally, since outlet stores are brand-specific, you won’t have to hunt through a department store to find the product you’re looking for.
- Lower prices. The entire purpose (and appeal) of an outlet store is lower prices. If you add Black Friday deals on top of already discounted merchandise, you could stand to receive some substantial savings opportunities.
If you do opt to shop at an outlet or two this Nov. 28, here are a few things to be on the lookout for:
- Deals that don’t apply. Just because an outlet mall is hosting a percentage-off deal or some other type of Black Friday savings event, don’t assume that every outlet store within the mall will necessarily be participating in the sale. You’ll want to find out ahead of time which stores will be offering discounts, accepting coupons, etc. Some stores may choose not to take part in promotions.
- Knockoffs. When you shop at an outlet, there’s a possibility that the item you’re purchasing isn’t exactly the same as the one you’d get from the regular retail location. To avoid bringing home a knockoff, the Better Business Bureau recommends that you ask if the merchandise was created specifically for the outlet store. If it was, it may contain fewer adornments or be made of a different material in order to reduce the cost. On the other hand, if you’re content with a non-retail version of a product, the outlet selection may suit you well.
- Higher prices? Even if you shop at an outlet instead of a traditional retailer, don’t forget the cardinal Black Friday rule – price comparison. Although outlets are typically known for their lower prices, they may not be offering the absolute best deal on the item you want. It’s still important to shop around, according to Consumer Reports. We recommend you read as many ads as you can before you create your schedule of stores to visit. Essentially, do your homework before deciding where you’ll be spending your Black Friday.
Outlet mall image via Shutterstock