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I am not much of a comparison shopper without being on the Internet, and recently the family was near one of those new outlet malls. The stuff they bought didn't seem (to me) to be any cheaper than if they bought the clothes and books at Walmart or Target.

Are outlet malls cheaper, a better value, or just a different kind of strip mall?

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They can be cheaper. For instance, my Wife bought stuff at the Gymboree Factory Outlet. They tend to give out more Gymboree Bucks (e.g. Coupons). They also seem to run a lot more deals. YMMV.

The factory outlet malls also seem to just have more variety for the brands that you like.

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    It absolutely depends on the outlet. Shopping the clearance section of the Eddie Bauer outlet, I make an absolute killing. Slacks and shirts for $10 apiece. I haven't found that kind of quality for that price anywhere before. – Jeffrey Aug 5 '10 at 12:32
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Some factory outlet stores sell items that are slightly defective. In this case, the price is certainly cheaper but you should be sure to figure out what is wrong with the product (scratches, tears, etc.) before purchasing.

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I'm going to throw my vote to the other side and say no, or at least they don't seem to be to me.

When I was young I remember my parents always stopping at the factory outlet stores during our vacations because they were so much cheaper.

However, my wife and I have been to a number of factory outlets over the past few years during our vacations, and we both agree that they don't seem to be as cheap as what our parents used to tell us they were. I can't think of a single factory outlet that I've been in where I've been awestruck with their low prices.

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