Friday, September 3, 2010

Outlet malls - bogus bargains or the real deal?

Luxury items are a way of life today but how many of us are prepared to pay full price? The good news is that you do not have to. Welcome the era of the outlet mall!
Is there anybody in the world today that has never visited one of the all singing all dancing outlet malls ? From Woodbury Commons near New York city, Bichester Village in Oxfordshire, La Vallee within the Disneyland Resort in Paris each and every one of these offer fantastic bargains for all the big name brands. They are not, however for the faint hearted and if you think you can just pop by and pick something up then you are a fool because :

a) You can never predict what they will have on sale. How this is determined is a complete mystery to me but I guess it has to do with the last seasons stock, lack of demand,seasonal nature or just the time of the month. Seriously if anybody knows drop me a line!
b) Size. Some of these places are so huge that you can get seriously lost just looking for the car park.

Precision planning is required for a trip to these places and thank God for the internet. Go to any of the sites above and they all will have a map of the stores. Get a big marker pen and plot all the stores you want to visit. Don't even think of trying to work it like a supermarket and go down the aisles because by the time you are at the store you really want you will be tired and grumpy, not to say possibly penniless!

So, are you really getting a bargain at these places or is it all hype? Sometimes you have to hold your scepticism but I think in the large part the answer has to be yes. I know from my own experience that the Dior handbag that I picked up for 600 USD was definitely discounted by around 50% because I had checked out the prices in Europe. The jury is still out for me  though on fashion items . Yes a 50% discount on a jacket is nice but if you are only buying it because it is discounted and not because you love it and had already earmarked it at the normal retail price then there is an issue. The one thing I do know for sure though is that with a bit of smart shopping you can get even bigger discounts than displayed. How many of you know that if you pop into the information centre before you start shopping they will give you a discount booklet that can give you anything from an extra 10 - 20% off in certain shops? Make sure you pick this up!
These days though you do not  have to even venture from your settee to grab an outlet bargain. The amount of internet sites promoting these discounted brands is phenomenal. It seems like almost every day I end up on some mailing list that promotes designer gear on a limited basis ( usually a 3 day offer or until sold out). Fashion Days in Prague is one such site and again I can testify that the system works but the offers on these sites are definitely hit and miss and you have to get up pretty early to read your mail as otherwise all the good stuff is gone before your first cup of coffee!
In short there is nothing stopping you these days from buying that  it bag seen on the arm of Alexa Chung or the latest season designer trench coats from Burberry but with a bit of planning and a strong constitution you can buy the shoes and scarf to match and still have change for that Gucci watch.
Happy Shopping!

1 comment:

  1. I love that one could still have change for "that gucci watch." Point taken on the "maybe not getting exactly what you want," but for me most of the time its about the hunt!


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