How to Find a Real Deal at Outlet Malls

These discount shopping centers offer consumers loads of supposed bargains. But is it always money well spent? Here are five guidelines.

The Great Recession has been tough on shoppers' wallets, but it's meant more business for outlet malls. A long car ride to the exurbs of the big cities, where such malls have sprung up, has become a regular routine for many consumers seeking savings on brand-name merchandise, says Catherine Moellering, executive vice-president of Tobe, a New York–based fashion-trend-forecasting firm. On average, outlet-mall shoppers made the pilgrimage nine times in 2010 and spent $165 per trip, according to Linda Humphers, editor in chief of Value Retail News, a trade publication. That's almost a 20% increase from $137 per trip in 2005, she says.

TAKE OUR QUIZ: Outlet Malls: Deal or No Deal?

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Andrea Browne Taylor
Contributing Editor

Browne Taylor joined Kiplinger in 2011 and was a channel editor for covering living and family finance topics. She previously worked at the Washington Post as a Web producer in the Style section and prior to that covered the Jobs, Cars and Real Estate sections. She earned a BA in journalism from Howard University in Washington, D.C. She is Director of Member Services, at the National Association of Home Builders.