Outlet stores

Myth Hunt: Factory Outlets May Not Be As Good As You Think

Note to outlet shoppers: Are you still reveling in those Boxing Day robberies? A SRC Marlet Factory outlet shopping can be cheap for a reason, survey finds, may be of lower quality than retail products.

Outlets have traditionally been a place where retailers could sell products that didn’t fly off the shelves last season, get rid of overstocks, or sell factory seconds.

But now, many retailers are making specific clothing lines for their outlet stores, which may not be the quality consumers expect from high-end brands.

“I think the outlet stores are set up to try to kindly trick most people into thinking they’re getting amazing overruns, amazing deals,” says Mark Ellwood, a New York-based shopping expert and author of Bargain Fever: How To Shop In A Discounted World. “When you walk into an outlet store, you have to think that this product was designed to be cheaper. “

Marketplace looked at items in outlet stores and comparable products sold in retail stores, and found that some were made with less durable leathers and different fabrics. (SRC)

Marlet compared similar products in factory and retail outlets of popular brands Banana Republic, J. Crew, Kate Spade and Coach. The clothes and handbags from these outlet stores often look a lot like the products in the retail stores, but Marlet discovered that some products were made with inferior materials, such as wools and less durable leathers.

Quality at points of sale “varies considerably”

Depending on the outlet store, a certain percentage of the inventory may be liquidation merchandise from the regular retail store. But the problem for factory outlets is that this type of inventory doesn’t have a reliable supply, says analyst Maureen Atkinson.

“When you walk into an outlet store, you have to think that this product was designed to be cheaper,” says Mark Ellwood, a New York-based shopping expert and author of Bargain Fever: How to Shop in a Discounted World. (SRC)

“Once you get past the five clearance stores, unless you have a huge problem and it’s not a good thing, you can’t fill the stores all the time, then you need to another source, ”she said.

Marlet found items in factory outlets made with less durable leathers and different fabrics than comparable products sold in retail stores.

“The quality of products in the outlets varies widely. Remember, these products were largely made just to be sold at low prices. So they will save money,” says Ellwood.

Marlet found that, when asked, Canadian outlet store staff could often identify products made specifically for point-of-sale sales and those that were discontinued items from the retail store.

In shops Marlet looked – Coach, Kate Spade, Banana Republic and J. Crew – the majority of products were made for point of sale. But there were sometimes indicators, such as differences between the labels on the retail products and the outlet products.

Companies admit to product differences

Coach, Banana Republic and J. Crew have all confirmed that they make items specifically for their outlet stores.

J. Crew said Marlet their outlet stores only sell products made for the outlet.

“In some cases, we are using different fabrics or adjusting design details to keep the price more reasonable,” J. Crew said in a statement. “We always take care to maintain the quality and design integrity you expect from J.Crew.”

Banana Republic Factory Outlets do not sell any products from its retail stores.

“At Banana Republic outlet stores, we offer quality clothing and accessories at a great price,” Banana Republic wrote in an email to Marlet.

Coach claims that all of its products, regardless of which store they are made for, are made from “the highest quality leathers and fabrics.”

“Typically our product made for factory outlets will be less embellished – using less overall material and / or simpler material, may not have an exterior pocket, or may have a narrower gusset, may have a more liner. simple (unbranded), or can use flat leather versus crumpled leather – versus the retail bag that inspired it. “

Kate Spade declined to comment on this story.

Mislead consumers?

Banana Republic is the subject of a class action lawsuit for the sale of point-of-sale versions of retail products in California.

When you are shopping, the point of sale staff can sometimes tell you if you are getting the same product sold in retail stores. (SRC)

The lawsuit against the retailer’s parent company, Gap Inc., alleges the company is misleading customers into believing they are getting the same quality at a point of sale as they do at a Gap or Banana Republic retail store.

Last year, four representatives of the US Congress asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to review products designed for factory outlets.

“We are concerned that factory outlet consumers will be misled into believing that they are buying products originally intended for sale in the regular retail store,” Congress representatives wrote.

The FTC posted a blog that advises consumers on how to get value for their money in shopping malls.

“If you’re not sure if the store only sells ‘store-made’ merchandise or how to tell the difference between them and regular retail merchandise for sale, ask the staff,” says the blog post by Colleen Tressler of the FTC .

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