If you’re into designer clothing without the designer price tags, It’s possible to pick up some real bargains at one of London’s several designer outlets. Big name labels are available with discounts of up to 60% so it’s definitely worth hunting out the gems.
On the other hand, not everything you find at a designer outlet will be a bargain and you can be easily swayed into spending your hard earned cash on items that turn out not to be such great value for money after all.
With a little planning beforehand, you can make sure to shop wisely and get the most for your money. Here are our top tips for designer outlet shopping:
1. Check Prices Online
Items at designer outlets are often marked as having huge discounts, but are often sold in normal stores at less than suggested retail price anyway. It’s always worth double-checking to see how big of a discount you’re really getting.
Luckily you no longer have to physically visit your local designer store to see what the real prices are. While you’re browsing at the designer outlet, use your smart phone to check out the prices on the website or use price comparison websites and apps to see how much other retailers are selling the same item for.
2. Check Quality Carefully
While some items at designer outlets are simply out of season or low-selling stock, many brands produce a separate line specifically for sale in outlet stores. These outlet lines are made of lower quality materials and so are naturally cheaper than the full-price versions.
If you’re just after items that you’ll probably only wear for the season, this may not be important to you, but if you’re looking for something classic that will last you for years, it’s probably better to seek out the better quality version at full price.
It’s also common for damaged and soiled goods to be sold through outlets so make sure you check items carefully before you buy.
3. Set a Budget
It’s easy to get carried away when shopping for bargains, particularly because most designer outlets are located outside the city so you feel like you need to really “make a day of it”.
To avoid ending up with a wardrobe of clothes that you’ll never wear again, or three pairs of shoes in the same colour, set yourself a budget for the day and have an idea in mind of what you’re looking for before you start shopping.
4. Plan Your Shopping Trips Around Season Sales
As with the highstreet, the best bargains are to be found at outlets during big sales. You’re likely to get the highest discounts and new stock during the main New Year and summer sales. Black Friday is also becoming a very popular shopping day in the UK and most retailers have caught on to this and put on big sales accordingly.
5. Sign Up to The Mailing List
It’s always worth visiting the website of any designer outlets you plan on visiting in the next year or so and signing up to their email list. If you do this you’ll be the first to know about sales and promotions and mailing list subscribers often receive coupons and other special offers that aren’t accessible to anyone else.
6. Seek Out The Discount Racks
As with regular retail stores, designer outlets are normally set out with the new and higher-price stock at the front and centre of the shop and clearance rails are located at the back and in the corners. You’ll get the biggest discounts in these areas if you’re willing to spend the time digging through stacks of clothing.
7. Check The Return Policy
Many outlet stores have a limited returns policy and you normally can’t return items you bought at an outlet to one of the regular full-price locations.
If you’ve travelled a fair distance to enjoy your outlet shopping experience it’s also unlikely that you’ll willing to make the trip again in order to return items you change your mind about, so if you’re not sure about something it’s best to put it back on the rack.
8. Shop Out of Season
Wanting to stock up on some bargain bikinis? Try shopping for them in the winter when demand is lower and prices are more likely to be marked down. The same is true of buying winter coats and other cold-weather items in the summer.
9. Ask the Staff
If you’re unsure if an item you’re considering is the full-quality version, or part of a cheaper line made for the outlet, ask the staff. Staff have insider information into the clothing they sell and when to expect new stock and sales. Usually they will be happy to pass on the information and can help direct you towards the best bargains.
10. Shop at Quieter Times
Designer outlets are always at their busiest during weekends and holidays. If you can manage to shop during the week when they’re quieter, you’ll have a much more pleasant shopping experience and you’re more likely to spot the best bargains before someone else has the chance to grab them.