Tuesday 5 February 2013

Outlet Shopping....are there really bargains?

Outlet Shopping

In our Managing Finances workshop, Cent$ible Students does an activity around being an educated consumer. We discuss consumer situations, including the pros and cons of shopping at an Outlet Mall.

The mission

This past weekend we were in Niagara Falls, NY for a hockey tournament. Although I was excited about the hockey, (really, I was!) I admit I was also excited about shopping at the outlet malls! I had been very good lately, careful about my spending and I had created a list of things I “needed.” I could use a new white blouse, some grey dress pants and maybe a comfortable wrap or jacket that I can wear when presenting workshops. The kids also had a few things they needed, including a new pair of jeans for Ben and a bathing suit for Brenna.

So, with our mission in mind, we hit the mall. (After the hockey game of course!)


When we talk about Outlet Malls in class, we discuss the quality of goods. Are they the same as what you find in a regular mall? In some cases, the stores actually produce a separate line of clothing. I was hoping to find a jacket at The Gap that I had seen at my local mall, but I discovered all the products were indeed different. Guess I proved my own point!


We were also disappointed to find that there were not the bargains we expected. Chris was looking for a new pair of running shoes. The price point was the same. He had researched prices ahead of time (something we suggest students do!) and there was not a bargain to be found. He figured it would be better to wait to buy them in Toronto where he would not have to pay the exchange rate and he could return them if there was a problem.


If we had not been in the USA already, it would definitely NOT have been worth the trip for bargains. We also talk about this our workshop, especially around Black Friday when many families travel to the US for the big bargains. Although it can be a fun family get-away, if you are truly looking to save money, you have to remember to factor in the price of gas, food and hotel if you are staying over night.

Results – Good and Bad

Did we buy what we wanted to shopping-wise? No, but we did find a Panini maker at Target that was on our list of “wants.” Chris loves to make sandwiches and we thought this would be a great way to use up leftovers. Good news, it was a great price. It was ten to twenty dollars less than what I had seen it advertised for in Canada. Bad news, I got it home, heated it up, only to find out it is defective! Luckily I checked the warranty, called the number and I can take it to a place locally that will either fix it or replace it. Still, it would have been a lot easier if I had bought it here and could have just returned it to the store! Lesson learned!

True Value

Hockey-wise the weekend was a great success. We had a wonderful time with the team even though we didn’t win the tournament. The memories created, the friendships formed are the real value of the trip.  But Outlet Mall shopping in the US  proved NOT to be the great money saver most of us Canucks think it is! 

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