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What's Actually Worth Buying at Outlet Stores

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Graphic: <a href="">Consumer Reports</a>
Graphic: Consumer Reports

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Acknowledging the not-so-big secret that outlets sell entirely different merchandise then their regular retail counterparts, Consumer Reports drills down to the details and compares items sold between outlets and regular stores to see what's worth buying and what's worth skipping at the cheaper price point.

Items that Consumer Reports deems worth buying at outlet stores include Coach's hobo pocketbook and J.Crew's ballet flats. In J.Crew's case, the retail flats are $150, leather-made, and produced in Italy. The outlet version of the flats are $41.70, made of polyurethane, and produced in China. On the surface, though, the flats look very similar and the 73% price cut is hard to pass up. Items worth skipping at outlets include select OskKosh B'gosh children's clothes that are more expensive at the outlet than at the retail store, and an L.L.Bean duffle bag clearly previously used and returned.

Consumer Reports conducted a reader survey along with the lab-run product tests that reveals that 67% of consumers walked away happy with their outlet merchandise, even if the quality is technically not as strong. Products sold at outlet prices were up to 72% cheaper than the regular retail goods and 38% of the survey respondents thought the outlet goods they purchased were as good as what they've found in regular stores.
· The inside dope on outlet malls [Consumer Reports]
· Buyer Beware: What You're Actually Getting at Outlet Stores [Racked]
· Gap, Banana Republic Sued for Selling Crappy Outlet Merch [Racked]