Great shopping is in the bag at these amazing designer stores. (Courtesy Nordstrom)
Orlando is a shopper's paradise. When it comes to shopping the big designer names, Orlando rivals Chicago and New York. In fact, Fortune magazine has named Orlando's Mall at Millenia and Orlando Premium Outlets among the top 10 malls in the country by sales. Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Michael Kors, Kate Spade. We have them. Jimmy Choo, Burberry, Barneys, Tory Burch, Lululemon. We have those, too. And lucky for shoppers looking for great buys at a discount, all of these stores and designers are available at our outlets. Before hitting the shops, we have a few suggestions to make the most of your time here.
Terry Lynn Morris, director of Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores, says to be sure to follow the outlet malls on social media networks. "Those sites frequently offer 'friends and family' specials and deals, plus notices about flash sales that only insiders will hear about," she says. "It's also good to go online to the website before arriving. For example, travelers can download a coupon to be exchanged on property for a booklet valued up to $400 in savings at Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores."
Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores, with stores like Ann Taylor LOFT, Lindt chocolates, Calvin Klein, Disney, Gap, Express, Old Navy, Guess, Levis, Carter's, Osh Kosh, Nike, Nine West, Samsonite, Tommy Hilfiger and Under Armour, provides a free shuttle service (407.363.1093) to 60 area hotels, making shopping completely convenient. Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores offers fewer shops than the Premium Outlets, yet all stores are newly reburbished, and parking is plentiful.
Another popular outlet mall is the Orlando Premium Outlets. Two locations with the same name make finding the right outlet center confusing, so be sure to look up the store directories before selecting the center. The Orlando Premium Outlets: Vineland Avenue offers 160 designer and name-brand outlets including Barneys New York, Burberry, Coach, Crocs, Gap Outlet, Guess, Lululemon, J. Crew, Nike, Salvatore Ferragamo, plus more stores opening this spring.
“Lacoste, The Beauty Space, Hugo Boss and Ted Baker are just the beginning of an exciting year of retail announcements at our center,” said Lorena Garcia, area director of marketing and business development at Orlando Premium Outlets.
This outlet, located near Disney Springs, gets extremely crowded, and finding a parking spot is like a frustrating version of musical chairs. Just when you think you have found a spot, a car swoops in and takes it. It's better to arrive early and head straight to the parking garage (just follow the signs), or else splurge on valet. It will pay for itself with the savings you get inside. (Half-price Tory Burch. Need I say more?)
Just up Interstate 4 about 9 miles near Universal Orlando is the Orlando Premium Outlets: International Drive which is the largest outlet center in town. Visitors can shop 180 designer and name-brand outlets at stores like Coach, J.Crew, Lacoste, Last Call by Neiman Marcus, North Face, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th and more. Traffic here is also very congested, so arrive early and plan to walk from the back of the parking lot. While outlet shopping is popular on rainy days when guests leave the theme parks, keep in mind Orlando's outlets are all outdoor shopping centers. Come prepared with rain gear.
Located near the Mall at Millenia, Nordstrom Rack is a stand-alone outlet offering discounts from its unsold merchandise at Nordstrom stores around the country. You can find great deals on designer handbags, children's items and jeans, with brands like Joe's and Paige.
One final tip: When shopping at the outlet malls in Orlando, be sure to compare apples to apples when it comes to price. For example, some outlets offer last season's merchandise that didn't sell at retail shops while others sell items specifically manufactured for the outlet market. You may find a great deal on high-end luggage at Samonsite that was introduced last year, while other shops like Banana Republic offer trendy clothes with good prices but the quality is less than clothing offered at their regular stores.
There are hundreds and hundreds of great shopping options here in Orlando and at our outlet malls. There is no way to go home empty handed.