June is an excellent month to take advantage of deals on cookware, lingerie, gym memberships and more!
Outlet Summer Footwear
In our search for frugal footwear to liberate winter-weary toes, we stopped at Quiksilver, Gap, and Nine West. We took stock of open-air sandals and flip-flops and then compared them to similar styles at retail.
At the outlet mall, we found plenty of cheap flip-flops. In the men's section, Quiksilver offered several for styles for $12.99 and Gap had rubber flip-flops for $7.99, plus another 40 percent discount for a final price of $3.99. On the retail side, Quiksilver online sold flip-flops similar to those at the outlet but priced them at $16.00 to $24.00 a pair and Gap carried men's contrast stripe flip-flops for $14.95.
For women, the Gap outlet priced rubber flip-flops at $7.49, and threw a 50 percent discount on top, for a bottom-line price of $3.75. The Nine West outlet was selling a leather Lela flip-flop with rhinestone embellishments for $49.99 a pair. Going retail at Gap would cost $16.95 for rubber flip-flops and $49.00 at Nine West, where we spotted a starfish jelly thong, Anita, in a choice of five colors.
The Nine West outlet carried latest styles, like color blocking.
Outlet and mall pricing for children's flip-flops were remarkably similar. Boys' rubber flip-flops were $6.99 at the Gap outlet with an additional 40 percent off, bringing the price to $4.19 a pair; girls' rubber flip-flops cost $9.99, or $7.49 after another 25 percent off. The retail Gap promoted rubber flip-flops for boys at $7.95 and girls' styles started at $8.95, with a few sale SKUs for $7.99 a pair.
We also searched for seasonal footwear trends, such as wedge heels, color blocking, and the patent-leather look. At the Nine West outlet, we noticed the I Want Color color-block patent heel in orange, pink, and purple that was selling for $69.99. We also homed in on a wedge heel, available in a host of bright colors; the Smiley cork wedge with a synthetic leather upper was fetching $39.99 after a markdown from $59.99. Nine West at the mall had a peep-toe Mary Jane with pastel color blocking, the Top Shoe, marked down to $69.00 from $89.00. The Act Out platform sandal, also brightly colored synthetic leather and cork, much like our outlet find, was reduced to $69.00 from $89.00, as well. The day of our shopping excursion the Nine West retail store cut the price by 15 percent with the purchase of two or more pairs.
Sandals were not necessarily cheaper at the outlets.
The outlet mall proved a cheaper choice for inexpensive flip-flops than the retail mall. For sandals, however, the price gap was narrower. Shoppers could easily end up spending the same amount of money on a Nine West outlet wedge as on its retail cousin, for example. Only by purchasing multiple pairs of shoes or by taking advantage of clearance finds would you realize significant savings at an outlet footwear store.
When assessing the quality of outlet sandals versus retail, we generally found that retail footwear looked more expensive. Rubber flip-flops at the mall Gap incorporated more detail and embellishment, and sported thicker, more contoured soles than the outlet versions. Nine West sandals at retail also featured more detail, such as contrast piping and fabric-covered buckles. Retail pieces used more real and fewer synthetic leathers, and synthetics had more of a real-leather texture. Outlet shoes presented with shinier finishes and simpler styling.
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