Why Outlet Prices Aren’t Really Discounts

If you like designer clothing, then outlet stores can be a mecca for good deals.

Whether it’s Nordstrom Rack, Last Call, Saks Off 5th, or Barney’s Warehouse, outlet stores give you the satisfaction of scoring a find with a deep discount, and catching up on trends you might not have been able to afford.

But did you know that most of the items stocked at these outlet stores have been made specifically for them? Only 20% of Nordstrom Rack’s merchandise was once carried by Nordstrom, while the remaining 80% is purchased solely for the Rack. In the case of Saks Off 5th’s, only 10% of its stock comes from Saks.

Outlet stores work with designers like Equipment, Theory, Stuart Weizman, and Vince to design outlet-specific merchandise.

Although a garment from an outlet store might look the same as its department store counterpart, it’s not. The differences may lie in fabric quality, patterns, buttons, snaps, or stitching.

There’s nothing wrong with making these substitutions, of course, so long as the consumer is aware that the item was never “originally” the full price the outlet tag claims that it was.

And therein lies the problem.

Until these companies become more transparent with their policies, consumers will continue to believe that they are scoring an incredible deal, while in reality, they are paying full-price for an inferior product.

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