The Pros and Cons of Discounted Shopping

Group of young women shopping in a store or mall

Stretching Your Budget

Wishing our money went further is a universal pain point. Maintaining a budget and being cautious of overspending often leads the heads of households to purchase from warehouse stores or outlet malls in an attempt to stretch the worth of their dollar. Is the commitment to saving money at warehouse stores and outlet malls worth the effort?

Is Outlet Shopping the Best Option?

An outlet store is a place where manufacturers sell their stock directly to the public. Since these stores are cutting out the middleman, the idea is that the merchandise is cheaper, but of the same quality as the authentic product.


  1. Discounted goods – In a Consumer Report, 60 percent of shoppers said they were extremely pleased with the value of the product they purchased.
  2. Quality – In the same report referenced above, almost three-quarters of shoppers described the merchandise quality from the outlet store as excellent or very good. While you are not purchasing the authentic product there seems to be little difference in the quality.


  1. Outsourced production – A cheaper product means cheaper labor. Although the quality of the product is the same (built/created with the same attention to detail), the country of origin may differ. For example a belt in the original designer store is made from Italy, but the same belt in the outlet store is made in China.
  2. Location – Although outlet stores are becoming more and more popular, they are still not as prevalent as typical malls and department stores. A long ride to the discounted store could cancel out any savings made from the trip.

Overall, it appears that if you can accept minor changes in the product from an outlet store, and one is located close-by, you can save money on your purchases. One report found that the average savings were 38 percent.

The Buying in Bulk Debate

When purchasing groceries, Costco and BJs and other warehouse stores offer customers certain incentives such as cheaper prices and exclusive memberships to purchase in bulk.  By purchasing large quantities of items your family uses on a regular basis you can save time and money. Typical items purchased in bulk include toilet paper, toothpaste, paper towels, cereal, laundry detergent, rice, etc.


  1. Less effort – Buying in bulk means you have to physically purchase that item less often. Instead of buying toilet paper once a month, you can buy it once every three months.
  2. Less expensive – The biggest pro for buying in bulk is the savings. You pay less per unit when you purchase more of an item at one time.


  1. Space – Once you bring your groceries home they need a place to be stored. It might not seem like a big deal, but think about the space a three-month supply of toilet paper takes up? In many homes storage is prime real estate and often a struggle. TIP: Check out these storage ideas.
  2. Variety – When purchasing in bulk you must use the same item over and over again. There is no room for diversity. Paper products don’t really call for diversity, but occasionally it is nice to spice up your food and personal hygiene selections, which can be difficult if you are buying in large quantities.

There is no clear answer when deciding if purchasing in bulk from warehouse and discount stores is the best way to go. Consider the needs of your family and evaluate what you purchase most often to find a shopping plan that makes the most sense for your family … and your wallet.

Learn more about purchasing groceries in bulk.

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