The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Consumer Reports on Outlet Malls

By Lyneka Little

Oct 4, 2011 2:18pm

Cautious consumers are finding buying opportunities at outlet stores. In a recent survey by Consumer Reports, outlet stores received high marks from shoppers searching for deals in a sluggish economy.

For the report, more than 17,000 readers answered a survey about shopping habits at 58 large outlets.  The report looked at consumer reactions to stores based on value, quality, selection and service and found a sector riddled with both praise and criticism.

According to the survey, 60 percent of outlet shoppers were completely satisfied or very satisfied by their experiences at outlet stores. But, the number one complaint about outlets: higher-than-expected price tags.

“When you factor in sales and discounts at regular stores, the average savings at outlets is 38 percent,” Linda Humphers, editor at Value Retails News, told Consumer Reports.

When it came to quality, outlet stores fared much better. Three quarters described the merchandise at the discount entities as “excellent or very good,” according to the survey. In fact, the same percentage found the merchandise at outlet stores and regular stores to be comparable in quality.

“A consumer’s experience may depend on how hard they are on clothes, how finicky they are about styling, or how happy they are saving money. Our shoppers saved up to 61 percent on outlet items,”  Tod Marks of Consumer Reports said in a statement

Here’s a look at the ratings for outlets

Top  Performers:

  • Jockey
  • Carter’s
  • Harry & David
  • Corningware
  • Izod
  • Van Heusen
  • Coach

 

 

Stores Cited By Consumers for Inferior Goods

  • Banana Republic
  • Brooks Brothers
  • Gap
  • J. Crew
  • Pottery Barn

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