How to Save Money (and Time) at the Outlet Mall

The outlet mall offers so many opportunities to save money on popular designer brands, but if you are not prepared before you go to the mall, you could miss out on some great bargains.

Everyone knows that shopping at the outlets can save you money, but I don’t know if everyone is aware that many of the outlet malls offer printable coupons on their website that can save you even more money.

Last year, they built an outlet center about 8 miles from my home, so I have been shopping there quite often and have created a guideline that I follow to help me stay organized and to save time and money when I shop:

Join the Outlet Center’s Preferred Shopper Program:
Just about all the outlet malls have some sort of preferred or VIP shopper program. It generally doesn’t cost any money to join, all you do is provide your email address, zip code, and select your preferred outlet mall. Then you can get access to exclusive coupons that you can print and take to the mall. They also may send you emails with coupons, information on sales, and special events that is only available to shopper club members.

Make a list of all the items you want to purchase:
In order to stay organized while shopping, it is best to create a list of all the items you want to purchase. When writing out your list, you should separate all your items into categories (i.e. apparel, shoes, home good, children’s clothes, etc).

Decide which stores you want to visit:
Because there are so many stores at the outlet center, it can become overwhelming. It is best to decide which stores you want to visit before you get to the mall. To save time at the mall, go through the list of items you want to purchase and make a note next to each which store(s) carry the item you want.

Determine the order of the stores you are planning to visit:
It is best to shop at stores that sell the heaviest items last. For example, if you are buying items for your home, you should stop at that store last; otherwise you will get stuck carry those items all day.

Based on personal experience, I have found that it is better to visit the most expensive store last. If you spend a lot of money on a luxury item, like that fabulous designer handbag you have always wanted, you might not have enough money to spend on the items you really need.

Print out Coupons & Special Sales Offers:
Use your list of stores you are planning to visit and print out all of the coupons and special offers. Be sure to make a note on your list that you have a coupon for that store so you don’t forget. You don’t want to buy a number of items only to get home and realize you had a coupon for that store.

Decide where to park:
Once you have decided which stores you want to visit, use the outlet center map to determine where you are going to park. I would recommend that you park near the last store you want to visit – it is much easier to walk a longer distance when you first arrive at the outlet mall, than when you are carrying all those shopping bags.

Stop at the Visitor’s Center:
When you get to the mall, you should stop at the Visitor’s Center before you do any shopping. You can get a map of the outlet center and check to see if there are any coupons or promotions that were not on their website. I have found it is helpful to talk to the customer service person at the visitor’s center to ask if there are any stores that are having a special sale. Sometimes you can get the inside scoop on a new sale or promotion. Also, if you have AAA, you should ask if the outlet center offers a special discount or free coupon book to members.

Now that you are prepared, you can enjoy your time at the outlet mall.

One last tip I have for shopping the outlets, is to Shop the Back of the Store First
From experience, I have found that stores usually have their sales racks (and lowest prices on clothes) in the back of the store.

Find more Shopping Tips & Resources

Previously titled: “Tips for Saving Time & Money at the Outlet Mall”

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