July 20, 2010 — -- Millions of budget-conscious shoppers hunt for deals every year at more than 40 outlet malls across the nation.
The mega-shopping complexes are popular but can be overwhelming for those who aren't savvy.
Gayle King and Adam Glassman visited "Good Morning America" this morning to share the best ways for people to maximize their outlet mall shopping experiences.
King is the editor at large of "O, The Oprah Magazine", and Glassman is the magazine's creative director.
The two spent nine hours shopping at the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets mall in Central Valley, New York. The mall has 220 stores offering merchandise from nearly every major designer.
Click HERE to visit "O" magazine.
They answered some key questions about outlet shopping.
Q: If it's cheap, isn't something wrong with it? Why are these clothes in an outlet mall?
A: Outlets used to be a dirty little secret, but now designers are making items specifically for them, Glassman said. Items tend to be less expensive than at retail for several reasons. For example, popular styles from a previous season may be re-issued using materials the designer already has. Also, a shipment may arrive late or miss its retail window, or may be labeled incorrectly. These are all reasons for which the merchandise could end up in an outlet store.
Because clothing could be labeled incorrectly, Glassman suggested that shoppers not be afraid to go up a size or two. The garment may just be a perfect fit.
Q: How can I prepare for my outlet mall trip?
A: Dress the part. Wear comfortable shoes and remove nonessential items from your purse so you're traveling light. Glassman also suggested that women wear makeup and have their hair done. That's because the lighting in dressing rooms is horrible, so you can help yourself out by looking good.
Q: Is there a correct way to shop once I'm inside the store?
A: You should start shopping at the outer edge of the store, Glassman said. That's because the bigger markdowns and last season's pieces tend to be placed on the perimeter and the back of the shopping area. Managers know that it's human nature to automatically walk to the center of the store, so that's where they generally put the pricier items.
Shop from the outer edge to the center of the store, and finish with accessories, Glassman said.
Q: What should I buy at an outlet?
A: Go for the classics. They will be in style for a long time. But if you love a trend from last year and don't mind being a season behind, go for it as long as the price is deeply discounted.
You should always spend within your means, but if you intend to splurge on something, King and Glassman said that you should go to an outlet store. A coveted item that may have seemed impossible at full retail price could actually be within reach at an outlet.
Q: Is there a best time to shop at an outlet?
A: Yes. Go early in the morning on a weekday. The outlets are packed on the weekend, making it harder to find the best deals.
Q. When is the best time to get the best deals?
A. You can get excellent deals if you purchase items in the off-season. Even though merchandise is already discounted, there are additional markdowns when those out-of-season garments hit the outlets.
Click HERE for a seasonal buying guide with tips for saving money on your purchases.