Outlet mall prices are tricky but worth the effort for many shoppers

Trade Talk columnist Jennifer Palmer writes that the price on the tag is not what you pay at outlet malls, such as The Outlet Shoppes at Oklahoma City, but subtracting percent discounts and coupons can be confusing.
by Jennifer Palmer Published: July 11, 2012
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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.


by Jennifer Palmer
Investigative Reporter
Jennifer Palmer joined The Oklahoman staff in 2008 and, after five years on the business desk, is now digging deeper through investigative work. She's been recognized with awards in public service reporting and personal column writing. Prior to...
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