How good are high-end outlet deals?

March 2, 2010 4:28:50 PM PST
Shoppers have been flocking to Houston's new Nordstrom Rack store in the Galleria area. The grand opening was last Thursday and the store has been packed ever since. But are the deals that good? Nordstrom Rack is what's called an "off-price" store. Meaning it's filled with overruns, cancelled orders and forecasting mistakes by designers. But are the prices at this luxury-outlet and others like it really that much better?

Shopper Robin Britt said, "I got Palladio lip liner for $3.70."

Britt is thrilled with what she found at the new Nordstrom Rack -- lip liner that normally costs $35 for less than $4. And a Jones New York blouse that retails for $59, she found for $19.97.

"I know my shopping and I know Nordstrom," she said.

There are 25,000 pairs of shoes, 800 plus handbags and premium labels like Juicy Couture, Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors.

One shopper said, "It's about time Houston got one!"

But are the deals really that good? We did some price comparing. We found some Michael Kors sunglasses that normally cost $130 selling for $35. Cole Haan shoes that cost $200 at Nordstrom can be found at the Rack for $50.

Still, some shoppers were not that impressed. Some designer tops were $75 and up, and handbags sold for $200 plus.

Let's face it -- if you are a Ross, Marshall's or Target kind of gal, some of the prices in here may shock you. Designer goods still come at a premium even at the off-price retailers. Take, for example, Neiman Marcus. The store is known for carrying some of the most expensive clothing, shoes and accessories in the world, but it has an outlet store called "Last Call." The outlet carries some of the same designers for a fraction of the cost.

"I found some Valentinos for less than $300," said one shopper.

Still pricy, just not as high. We found other examples -- a pair of Jimmy Choos retail for $375, but at the outlet, they cost $131.25 Manolo Blaniks retail for $685. We find them at last call for around $240. A Dolce and Gabbana dress that was originally $2,450 could be yours for $619!

If you're willing to really dig, incredible bargains can be found. A Vera Wang dress was in the clearance section. The original price was $430. It was 75 percent off the lowest price, plus an additional 25 percent off. We ended up paying $27 for the high-end designer dress.

The bottom line is unless you shop the clearance sections, the prices can still be high. The key is to dig and be willing to take a look at other sizes. If you're into high-end labels, then it may be worth it, even with the price of alterations.


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