Campus Style: Outlets vs. department stores

By Jillian Green
Columnist

After struggling with a bout of writer’s block, I decided to spend the morning out on a shopping spree in search of some fashion inspiration. I was lured to the nearby Quaker Bridge Mall for Macy’s one-day sale and Lord & Taylor’s friends and family sale. I had hoped to find a dress for my upcoming formal, but left the mall disappointed and empty-handed.

Nordstrom Rack is a good shopping alternative to the mall. (Flickr.com)
Nordstrom Rack is a good shopping alternative to the mall. (Flickr.com)

I didn’t give up just yet, though. A few miles down the road were my old and trusted friends, Nordstrom Rack and Saks Off Fifth Avenue. I found the atmosphere, prices and clothing of both stores to be better than anything I saw at the mall.

This left me wondering how department stores are able to compete with these outlet stores. I’m sure they lose a lot of business to nearby outlets — I just about had to fight my way to the racks of clothes at Nordstrom Rack, whereas the anchor stores at the mall felt deserted in comparison.

The outlet stores offer high-end dresses for less money. (Flickr.com)
The outlet stores offer high-end dresses for less money. (Flickr.com)

Normally, these outlet stores are a season or less behind what you will see at the mall. But you can’t beat the prices here, so it’s a no-brainer to try these stores first before the mall, especially because they carry a lot of the same brands and styles.

From my personal experience, I can tell that the outlet stores have lowered their prices significantly over time. I wouldn’t say the prices are comparable to that of Marshalls or T.J. Maxx, but they’re definitely getting close. So for those of you struggling to find that new summer dress at the mall, be aware that there are better options from higher end stores at bargain prices. Happy shopping!