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What is a Retail Outlet?

By Bethany Keene
Updated Feb 17, 2024
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A retail outlet may refer to one of two things. The first is a store that simply sells merchandise directly to the consumer; the merchandise is generally purchased by the store from a wholesaler, or it may be manufactured by the company that owns the store. The second type of retail outlet is a store that is opened by the manufacturer, often near the factory, for the purposes of selling over-produced or irregular merchandise at discount prices.

Within the first category of retail establishments, some retail outlets are large stores with a wide variety of merchandise, while others are small specialty boutiques. They are generally in a fixed location, such as inside a shopping mall or in an independent storefront on the street. A kiosk is also a type of small retail outlet. Retail outlets also often have online stores as well.

Retail outlets generally sell goods in unlimited quantities to consumers, unless a store is offering a particularly deep discount. Then the owner may limit quantities to avoid someone purchasing all of the items to sell at their own retail outlet, or eliminating all the inventory for the other customers who may visit. Almost anyone can open a retail outlet with an investment; though it may not be necessary to have a business education, it might be a good idea.

Anyone who owns or manages a retail outlet will need to be able to maintain stock levels, take inventory, advertise and market their business, and provide customer service, among other duties; some might also need to hire additional employees to help run the store. Stores typically set their own prices by marking up slightly the price at which items were sold to them from the manufacturer. Some stores choose to offer discounts to particular groups of shoppers, such as students or the elderly, or some might produce their own coupons or sale fliers to encourage shoppers to visit the location.

Retail outlets that offer discounted or irregular merchandise from the factory are generally much simpler, and often do not require much advertising or even merchandise presentation. These types of discount outlets are especially popular for designer stores, as people may be able to find slightly irregular or outdated designer items for a fraction of the initial price; often, it is difficult or impossible to tell that there was a mistake made in the manufacturing at all, though the customer should always examine the merchandise carefully before purchasing. This type of retail outlet is virtually never opened independently, but usually at the discretion of the manufacturer.

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Discussion Comments
By cafe41 — On Mar 17, 2011

@Cupcake15 - What I like is when there is a retail outlet & clearance center. There you can really get good deals on merchandise that is a few seasons old.

There is a fabulous store in New York City that sells below market designer clothing really cheap. It is Century 21 and they have a store in lower Manhattan. The only bad thing is that the store does not have any fitting rooms because it its somewhat no frills environment, but you can leave with some great deals on designer clothing as long as you don’t mind that it might be last year’s season instead of the current season.

Some of these clothes are so classic in nature that no one will ever know that it the clothing is from an older season.

By cupcake15 — On Mar 16, 2011

@Subway11 - I once went to a Prime Outlet mall in St. Augustine when I was visiting my in-laws and even though the mall was rather small I was able to get some really good deals.

There was a Crocs store that offered shoes for $10.00. Most of these shoes normally retailed for $30 or more. These kinds of deals really make shopping fun, but it is important to look at the price that you are paying.

Just because the mall states that it is a below retail outlet mall it doesn’t mean that the prices are all that low. Some of the prices are similar to what you would find in a regular mall.

You really have to know what you are looking for and if the prices are not that low, I wouldn’t buy. I also would not buy electronics at any of these retail stores because they are usually not authorized dealers and the manufacturer will not honor warranties that are normally associated with the product.

So if you have any problems with your purchase you will be out of luck.

By subway11 — On Mar 13, 2011

I love going to outlet malls. I think that the best time to shop at that these factory outlet malls are around Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day. They offer generous sales during these holiday periods because they try to take advantage of the extra tourist traffic that they will receive during this time.

I sometimes shop at the Sawgrass Mills outlet mall in Sunrise Florida. This is a huge mall and among one of the biggest in the United States. There are great deals to be had at this mall, but you have to be willing to deal with the crowds because this mall gets really crowded.

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