Outlet shopping in USA is one of the best retail shopping that one can experience in the world. Where else can you find famous brands like Coach, Ralph Lauren, Kate Spade, Tommy Hilfiger, Gap and more at affordable prices! In fact, outlet shopping is one of the Top Things to do in America, when one is on holiday in the “Land of the Brave and Free!” Here is a quick list of Outlet Shopping TIps for the USA.
As it takes us at least 13 hours to reach the shores of America, one needs to shop “smart” when one is on holiday in the States. Besides the sight-seeing, one needs to maximize the short “windows” of opportunity that we have to shop.
Here are some Outlet Shopping tips for long-distance travelers, when one is headed to America:
- Clearance Items
When you enter the shop, the brand new designs always look the most attractive. However, the items with the best value are found at the back. Always head first to the “reduced to clear” rack and then slowly make your way to the front.
2. Talk to the Staff
Staff are usually quite attentive and the moment you walk into the shop, they are quick to assist. Lots of shops have additional perks and coupons, where they will pass out to shoppers as they engage the shop. Shops might also have additional discounts, when you spend above a certain amount. The calculation can be complicated (Imagine 60% off storewide, additional 15% above $150, and those with Green Tags, Add another 5%!) But the staff are always at hand to do the math for you!
3. Not all Shops are Factory Outlets
True outlets carry merchandise that was originally stocked in regular retail stores and has been discontinued or phased out due to the shopping season, resulting in steep discounts. These stores also often carry damaged goods, so always check items carefully for irregularities before you buy anything. Examples of such shops are Levis, Nine West.
Factory stores sell goods that were specifically produced for outlet malls. While these items may look like those in regular retail stores and bear the same name, they’re usually made with cheaper fabrics or fewer features than their full-price counterparts. For example, a dress carried in a J. Crew retail store might be designed without the expensive lining and fabrics and then sold through the J. Crew outlet. Stores that sell outlet goods specifically include:
- J. Crew
- Polo Ralph Lauren
- Calvin Klein
- Banana Republic
Retailers that want to take advantage of the foot traffic in outlet malls sometimes purchase store space there without actually offering outlet products.
Some retail stores that simply operate space in outlet malls include:
- Famous Footwear
- American Eagle
- Charlotte Russe
- Columbia Sportswear
- Sunglass Hut
4. Look out for Major Sale Weekends
There are additional discounts during the holiday periods, where the shop takes an additional 10% discount off all prices including sale items. Do goggle the holiday period for the area that you are visiting and plan accordingly
Some of the best weekends to shop include the following:
- Memorial Day weekend
- The Fourth of July
- Labor Day weekend (especially for back-to-school specials)
- The weekend after Thanksgiving
5. Look out for taxes
The final discounted price never reflects the taxes found in the States. Do take in mind, that there are taxes on your purchases and they vary per state. A conservative guide will be to add a !0% charge to the item (most of the time, the tax is less). Oregon is the only state with no sales tax!
And where else can I shop besides the Outlet malls?
5. T.J. Maxx, Ross, Marshalls, Century21
Unknown to most Singaporeans, there are shops which may offer even better buys than outlets. Imagine a shop that collates the items which can be found at outlets and puts them into one store. Shops such as T.J. Maxx is one of our favorite haunts in America, as they also have a clearance section which offers further discounts off the merchandise.
However, as the items here are a collection of items, it can be pretty much a treasure hunt, as you don’t know what you can find in a TJ Maxx or at Ross. To us, that is the fun of finding a bargain, as you can’t really tell what to expect, as there will always be something different at every outlet.
TJ Maxx is our favorite shop when it comes to Samsonite Luggage, household products and children’s clothes. Although the luggage here is older, but the prices are much cheaper than what you can find at the Samsonite outlet. One can purchase a hardcase 29 inch luggage for USD 80 and a smaller hardcase cabin size luggage at USD 90. Reason being, as the cabin sized luggages are more in demand.
6. Nordstrom Rack
Nordstrom is a big departmental chain found in the states, and Nordstrom Rack is where they put their discount off season items.
One can find Tumi bags, Calvin Klein Underwear, Hugo Boss black and red label items and lots of shoes here.
We love to shop at Nordstrom Rack for shoes, as the shoes here are all placed systematically by shoe sizes. From formal to casual shoes which are sorted by sizes, one can find Cole Hann, Bruno Magli, Nike, Ecco, Doc Martens…the list goes on. Before we flew to the States, we made sure that we had our kids draw out the outline of their feet, so as we got their sizes right at the store! 🙂 Needless to say, we scored quite a few bargains for them.
More USA Outlet Shopping Tips
- Travel Light
Travelling to the States means that each passenger is allocated luggage space of 2 full suitcases. With each weighing a maximum of 23 kg, every traveler that flies economy can bring up to 46kg onboard. If you have friends who travel business, they are allowed up to 4 suitcase for these long haul trips. (Do note that you have to pay for checked-in luggage for Domestic Flights!)
When we flew to America, we packed light, and brought an empty luggage along with us to carry our shopping. On our second trip in 2018, we volunteered to buy 28 inch suitcase for our friends, when in America. The only catch was that they had to let us use the suitcase for our trip back to Singapore. This gave us the liberty to move around “freely” when we did our sight-seeing, and the new suitcases gave us the ability to bring back our shopping as well.
It’s not difficult to find “buyers’ for these 28 inch Samsonite luggage, as you can buy them for USD$90 to $120 over in the States with 5-10 year International Warranty.. In Singapore, the same luggage can cost SGD$350 onwards.
2. Weigh your Luggage
As the Airlines are really strict on the weight requirements and if you want to avoid paying exorbitant rates for excess load, bring along a portable weighing machine. We brought a small electronic scale with us to make sure that we did not exceed our allocated weight.
If you overpack your bags, you will just need to unpack your luggage at the airport, which is rather unpleasant, as no one likes to be rushed through their departures.
3. Keep your Rental Car safe
Driving to the outlet is the start of a shopping adventure. Prevent it from turning it into a nightmare by making sure that you don’t leave any unattended bags in the car. Car Jacking is really common in the States and unattended bags in the back seat is a big invite for theft.
Bring everything that is valuable with you and only leave things in the boot when necessary. Outlet malls are big targets for thieves, as the shoppers are mainly tourists like you and me.
Hope these tips help you on your shopping trip to the States. If I have missed out on anything, feel free to comment and let me know! 🙂 Happy Shopping!