HOUSTON (KTRK) -- With only 10 days left until Christmas, the shopping rush is on! Many people may be tempted to stop at the outlet malls to one-stop shop.
Consumer Reports has rated 53 of the biggest outlet stores for value and quality, based on a survey of nearly 16,000 subscribers.
Most shoppers told Consumer Reports they are happy with the deals at outlet stores, and 64 percent say outlets offer great value.
"When I shop at outlet centers, I'm looking for a great deal, a great product at a great price," one shopper said.
Those surveyed found superior value at these stores: Bon Worth, Haggar, OshKosh B'gosh, Izod, and L.L.Bean.
But the ratings from Consumer Reports subscribers were not as good for some other stores, including American Eagle Outfitters, Old Navy, Gap, Nike, and Levi's.
These days most merchandise is made especially for the outlets. For example, at Coach, they make one bag for the retail store and another for the outlet. But is it the same quality?
"The retail version is made of a nice, heavy, embossed leather. It's got a rounded top, so it sits nicely, and a rounded handle, which is more comfortable. The outlet version is a fine bag. It has a few less fine details and a flat handle," said Mandy Walker with Consumer Reports.
There's a $100 difference between J.Crew's outlet ballet flats and those from its retail store.
"The shoes are very similar. But the retail version is made of leather in Italy, and the outlet version is made in China of polyurethane. And the retail version also has a heel, which will provide much better support," Walker said.
Also, be aware not everything is cheaper at the outlets. Although Consumer Reports found a Corelle dinnerware set that is identical to the one at the retail store, it actually costs more. The same happened with a Revere Ware pot and pan set.
There are definitely bargains to be found at the outlets, but you have to shop carefully.
Consumer Reports has more tips for outlet shoppers. Head to the back of the store first. You'll find the biggest markdowns there.
If an item that you'd like to purchase is damaged, always ask for an additional discount. Consumer Reports shoppers got at least 10 percent off, every time.
Are you really getting a deal at the outlet store?