By now, most shoppers get outlet mall shopping. We get the appeal of value for cheap. We love having Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th and Coach Factory. We even overlook the drive to The Outlet Shoppes at Oklahoma City and don't mind dashing from store to store in the pouring rain or blazing heat.
What we still don't get, however, is the prices.
On Saturday, dozens of women examined handbags inside the mall's Coach Factory, one of the busiest and most popular stores. But it wasn't just color and size and functionality shoppers were considering. They were busy trying to figure out the price.
Sure, all the bags and wallets have a price tag. But signs across the store advertised an additional 30 percent off or half off clearance bags.
Brows furrowed, many shoppers tried to calculate the price in their head. The inclination was to put the bag back on the shelf and give up. Or grab one and fork over whatever amount comes up on the register.
A worker walked the store, calculating prices for many of the women, but surely there's a better way.
Similar scenarios played out at other stores.
Inside Carter's, a woman who had just made a large purchase waited in line again to complain about what she believed was misleading pricing. Signs advertised percent discounts as well as buy-one get-one deals, and she felt her receipt didn't reflect her expectations.
As the miffed customer demanded a manager, a sales clerk admitted there had been several complaints and actually agreed it was confusing.
The confusion is compounded when shoppers attempt to use one of the mall's coupon books, which are sold at guest services for $5. Nearly all of the listed coupons require a certain amount to be spent (for example, receive 10 percent off when you spend $75), but try calculating the discounts on each item and adding them up! You'd need a mathematician (or a calculator).
Gina Slechta, a spokeswoman for Horizon Group Properties, which owns The Outlet Shoppes at Oklahoma City as well as several other outlet malls, said she hadn't heard of this type of pricing strategy.
“In all of our shopping centers, we have not heard that type of a comment,” she said.
Don't get me wrong — we still love our outlet mall. We'll continue to part with our precious dollars. But what we'd love even more is to see the actual price on the tag.