Everyone loves a bargain, and outlet stores promise name brand goods at deep discounts. "Outlet stores allow retailers to move and sell their (old) seasonal inventory at a discounted price to help make room for all of the new inventory that is scheduled to hit the retailer's shelves and sites," says Sara Skirboll, shopping and trends expert with coupon and discount website RetailMeNot.
Originally intended to sell overstocked goods or items with minor defects, outlet stores have turned into shopping destinations. Tanger Outlets, for instance, operates 39 centers in 20 states and draws 181 million shoppers to its stores each year, according to the company's 2019 annual report.
However, you don't have to live near an outlet store or center to get great deals. Many brands, ranging from high-end designers such as Coach to shoe retailer Sperry, have online outlet stores.
Here are 10 top choices representing a range of product options:
-- Amazon Outlet.
-- J. Crew Factory.
-- Best Buy Outlet.
-- Saks Off Fifth.
-- REI Outlet.
-- Kay Outlet.
-- Reebok Outlet.
-- Nordstrom Rack.
-- American Freight.
Website: Amazon Outlet
Best for: Largest selection of goods
The Amazon Outlet is tucked away on the online retailer's website and doesn't seem to have a direct link from the store's homepage. However, an online search will bring up the outlet and once there you'll find overstock deals in 25 different categories. These include grocery items, jewelry, toys and more. Not everything is bargain priced -- such as the $9.98 box of special edition cereal found there -- but there are deals to be found across multiple product categories.
J. Crew Factory
Website: J. Crew Factory
Best for: Clothes for the whole family
Clothing retailer J. Crew is known for classic fashion for the whole family. At its online outlet store, you'll find coats, pajamas, sweaters and shoes for men, women, boys and girls, with sizes for women ranging from 00 to 3X. The J. Crew Factory promises discounts of up to 60% off, and those prices can be stacked with coupon codes for even greater savings. A classic cotton cardigan sweater that sells for $19.95 and has a comparable regular price of $59.50 is an example of the type of deals available.
Best Buy Outlet
Website: Best Buy Outlet
Best for: Electronics
The items for sale at the Best Buy Outlet fall into three categories: open box, refurbished and clearance. Open box goods may be in excellent condition or come with minor cosmetic damage, significant wear or missing accessories. However, the condition of items is clearly stated, and pricing reflects the condition. For instance, Beats by Dr. Dre - Beats Studio³ Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones currently sell for a regular price of $349.99. Refurbished, the price is $249.99, and as an open box item in excellent condition, the cost is $209.99.
Best for: Shoes
As the discount website for Zappos, this online outlet store is a prime spot to pick up bargain-priced shoes. The clearance closet portion of the site offers products at prices that are as much as 70% off. You'll find deals such as Michael Kors pumps for $39.99, a substantial drop from the $150 manufacturer's suggested retail price. Be aware that while 6pm is affiliated with Zappos, it doesn't come with the latter's famously long return period. If you need to send back a purchase, there is a standard 30-day return window which has been extended to 60 days in 2020.
[Read: Best Discount Shopping Apps]
Saks Off Fifth
Website: Saks Off Fifth
Best for: Designer goods
Saks Off Fifth serves as the online outlet store for Saks Fifth Avenue and offers clothing, handbags, home goods and more from dozens of designer labels. Popular brands include Versace, Valentino, Jimmy Choo and Marc Jacobs. While many items are at least 20% off, deeper discounts are available on some products. Notably, the clearance section has items up to 75% off, and there, shoppers can find items such as an $895 Valentino crossbody bag marked down to $264.99.
Website: REI Outlet
Best for: Outdoor gear
For those who like to get outdoors, the REI Outlet offers deals on closeout items and models from previous years. The site has outerwear and shoes as well as specialty gear for activities such as camping, climbing and snow sports. Featured brands include Columbia, Camelbak and Marmot, and discounts can be as much as 50% off. Watch for online coupon codes that can provide additional savings on already reduced price items.
Website: Kay Jewelers Outlet
Best for: Jewelry
The Kay Outlet is a destination for affordable jewelry with gift items starting at prices as low as $14.99. Of course, there are also plenty of higher-end items such as rings, bracelets and necklaces featuring diamonds and gemstones. Special sales events can mean prices are up to 70% off. Returns can be made within 30 days of when a purchase is shipped while exchanges are offered within 60 days. There is an extended return window during the holiday months.
Website: Reebok Outlet
Best for: Athletic wear
In the Reebok Outlet, shoppers will find shoes and apparel for men and women as well as shoes for kids. The inventory includes items from partners such as CrossFit, Les Mills and Victoria Beckham. Discounts can be as much as 50% off, but most items have their price reduced from 5% to 20%. The Reebok Outlet search filters make it easy to browse items by discount, sport, color and even the sustainability of the materials used.
Website: Nordstrom Rack
Best for: Beauty products
Fans of Nordstrom will find many of their favorite designers and fashions at a reduced price at Nordstrom Rack. The online outlet store is a good option for clothing and home goods but also has an extensive collection of discounted makeup and beauty products. You'll find names here such as Murad, Lorac and Elemis for as much as 50% off.
Website: American Freight
Best for: Appliances
While established in 1994, American Freight combined with Sears Outlet in 2020 to sell discounted appliances, furniture and mattresses from the department store. Shoppers can save up to 50% on appliances which may come new, out of the box or with cosmetic damage. While items can be shipped, be aware that products coming from distant stores may incur a hefty shipping cost. Search for goods in nearby stores to save on this expense.