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.
âI think the outlet stores are set up to try to kindly trick most people into thinking they’re getting amazing overruns, amazing deals,â says Mark Ellwood, a New York-based shopping expert and author of Bargain Fever: How To Shop In A Discounted World. âWhen you walk into an outlet store, you have to think that this product was designed to be cheaper. “
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.
Marlet found items in factory outlets made with less durable leathers and different fabrics than comparable products sold in retail stores.
âThe 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,â 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.
âIn some cases, we are using different fabrics or adjusting design details to keep the price more reasonable,â 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.
âAt Banana Republic outlet stores, we offer quality clothing and accessories at a great price,â 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.
Banana Republic is the subject of a class action lawsuit for the sale of point-of-sale versions of retail products in California.
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.
“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 .