5 Great tips to saving big at the outlet malls (because it's NOT always a deal.)

Most of us have had our occasional trip to the outlet mall. We browse, buy and just enjoy the fun ambiance, but do you know how to save the most money possible when you visit the outlets?

For the last ten years, I have road tripped to Myrtle Beach with girlfriends or have enjoyed time there for our extended family reunion.  Besides the lure of the beach,  Tanger Outlet Mall is an absolute destination place during each and every trip. For years, I would approach my Tanger trip much like I did my vacation, leisurely with no direction or set goal. I always had a blast with my girlfriends, but I certainly didn’t know the ins and outs of getting the best deals.

I didn’t know how to save big at the outlet, but now I absolutely do.

Here are the Top Five Ways I Save Big at the Outlets.

1. Shop Off Season, and Shop the Clearance Racks

This may seem like common sense, but you would be shocked at how much you can save by shopping at various times of the year. I love going during the months when they bring the newest seasons clothes out. For instance, I went at the end of January, and they were already donning the mannequins in spring outfits, which left winter clothes highly discounted. I ended up with a few sweaters at Tanger’s Rue 21 for only $2. Yes, TWO dollars! That’s a better deal than a thrift store.

Also, just like I recommend shopping the perimeter of the grocery store for deals, it’s the same principle with the outlet stores. Clearance Racks are typically at the back or sides of the store, and that is where the huge savings occur. Not only are the prices slashed, they are slashed off the already discounted price for up to 90% off retail prices.  At Tanger, nearly all the stores have sales, but if you are looking for the lowest prices, just ask one of the sales clerk where the clearance racks are located with the lowest prices. They are always very helpful, and love assisting you. The clearance rack goes for the households goods and the food stores as well. I found a lot of great birthday and Christmas gifts that are already put aside because there were so many great clearanced items I didn’t want to pass up.

2. Head to Customer Service when you arrive.

Customer Service is there to help you have the best shopping experience possible and they know the ins and outs of their mall.  You may feel odd going to customer service, but you’d be surprised at the helpful tidbit they can share to help you save more. Just ask if you are missing anything because each outlet is different.

When I went, I found out about their savings booklets. Tanger offers $5 discount coupon books which are invaluable. If you do a little extra digging though, you should be able to get it for free. If you are in a resort town, many of the free area attraction books offer a coupon for a free coupon book, or  if you show a Military ID, AAA/CAA or ARP card, you can also receive it for free.

You may also buy them ahead of time or just head right to customer service with your coupon. Not all the outlet stores  offer coupons in the book, but if you are planning on a few hours of shopping, you will more than make up your $5 during the first purchase. I guesstimate that we saved at least $50 using the coupons located in the coupon book. You can also sign up for the Tanger Elite Membership which offers additional perks like a $10 birthday gift card, seasonal discounts, a free coupon book and more. This costs $10, but since you receive a coupon book AND a $10 gift card, again, the price is easily offset your first visit. Yep, I learned all that at Customer Service. 😉

3. Follow Tanger Outlet on Facebook (or the specific outlet you will be visiting) and visit their main website.

Both the main website and facebook pages offer specific deals and coupons that can only be found on-line. I just shared on my Balancing Beauty and Bedlam facebook page that Tanger’s offering a $10 off of a $50 purchase, which I only saw because I follow them on facebook. Pair this kind of savings with the already low prices, and you can see how these savings begin to really add up.

4. Follow the Individual Stores on Facebook.

Pull up the outlet directory to see what stores you will shop first, and then see if they have any coupons they are offering. Often, the stores will have printable facebook coupons. The Saturday I visited Tanger, I had a printable coupon for a free item at Jockey (no purchase necessary), as well as a 20% off discount at Oshkosh B’Gosh. If you have downloaded various apps, you can just pull up the codes on your iphone. Yes, I love technology.

5. Sign up for Groupon 

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention looking for Groupons offered at the various outlet stores. I actually bought a Groupon to Direct Tools in the car on the way to Tanger outlet, and then used it once I got there. It was the BEST deal EVER! I felt like I had hit the jackpot, and yes, I got very excited about my electric sander purchase. 🙂 Plus, last year, I also got to pair a Coldwater Creek groupon for some great deals. These don’t always happen, but since Groupons typically are good for a year, you can buy them and then wait til you head to the outlets to use them.

Have I missed any great ways to save at the outlets?

What have been some of your fun finds?