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Outlet shopping: Do the savings outweigh the hassle?

Thursday - 12/1/2011, 6:03am  ET

WASHINGTON -- Consumer Reports set out recently in search of the truth about outlet shopping -- is it really worth the trip and the crowds?

The answer: Yes.

For a November article, the magazine put outlets to the test by spending $2,000 on name brand apparel at retail stores, then heading out to the outlets to buy the same, or similar, items.

When comparing the quality of the merchandise purchased and the savings, the magazine found that retail quality was usually a little bit better than that of the outlet store, but in some cases, the outlet version was the same or superior.

When it came to savings, there was no comparison. The outlet shopping trip saved up to 60 percent.

Of the findings, the magazine says that consumers in general are pleased with the range of stores at outlet malls and happy with the savings. However, they did report higher-than-expected prices at some stores, including Bose, Calvin Klein, J. Crew, Nike, Polo, Pottery Barn and Sunglass Hut.

The stores noted for good savings were Coach, Haggar, Izod and Van Heuson.

The main complaint: Selection and service could be improved.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)