A discount shopping trip in the United States can be a real bonanza for visitors looking for top quality, designer brands and home accessories at significantly reduced prices.  There are several national or regional store chains that carry real bargains.  They are not ritzy, glamorous places to shop, like the upscale shopping malls, department stores and specialty stores.

In fact, some can have almost a flea-market feel, especially during a big sale when hordes of shoppers pick through racks of clothing and toss items willy-nilly.  These discount, or “off-price” retailers as they like to call themselves, usually have huge inventories overall, but may carry only limited quantities or sizes of particular items.  Finding a great bargain in the right size and colour is often hit or miss, but that can be part of the fun: Bargain shopping in the USA is considered almost a sport by some.   

According to the retailers, they are able to offer substantial savings below department and specialty store prices through “opportunistic buying” – that is overstocks, samples, cancellations, closeouts or sometimes items with slight imperfections.

A list of stores to discover:

TJ Maxx – more than 800 stores nationwide.   Sells brand name and designer apparel for women, men and children, Giftware, domestics, women's shoes, fine jewelry (14-kt. gold and sterling silver), and children’s educational toys and books, at up to 60 percent less than department and specialty store prices.   They maintain that over 95% of their stock is first quality merchandise, over 85% is current season merchandise, less than 15% are classic staple items bought at the end of the season and packed away for next season. (ie: basic jeans, white turtlenecks). 

Marshall ’s – more than 700 stores in 42 states.   Sells top quality designer and brand name fashions: men’s, women’s, children’s, shoes and home goods for up to 60% less than department and specialty store prices. 

Ross Dress for Less – more than 700 stores in 27 states, mainly in the South, West and Mid-Atlantic regions.   Sells men’s, women’s and children’s apparel, shoes, home accessories and fine jewelry (at some stores) at up to 65% off the prices found at leading department stores.

Stein Mart – 263 stores in 30 states, generally excluding the North and Northwestern states.   Merchandise includes current-season, moderate-to-designer brand-name fashion for women and men, accessories, home décor, linens and shoes, at prices 20% to 60% below department stores and specialty shops.   Store atmosphere tends to be somewhat more upscale than some of the other off-price retailers.

Loehmann’s – more than 50 stores in 17 states, mainly East Coast, California, Illinois, Michigan.   National upscale off-price specialty retailer. Offerings include designer women’s apparel, shoes and accessories, fragrances, gifts and intimate apparel. Most stores now include men's departments.   Prices at 30% to 65% lower than department or specialty stores.

Filene’s Basement – Georgia , Illinois , Maryland , Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C.   Carries off-price brand-name and designer fashions for men, women, children, shoes, home accessories & fine jewelry.   Focus on higher-end goods. -- UPDATE: On December 29, 2011 the owner of Filene's Basement (SYMS) filed for bankruptcy and the stores closed.  The company re-structured and emerged from bankruptcy in September of 2012, after selling all of its properties and liquidating inventory.  However, it expects to license the rights to the Filene's Basement brand, and its website indicates that it expects the Filene's Basement brand to continue on.

In addition to discount department stores, there are discount namebrand 'malls' that specialize in upscale goods:

Premium Outlets- Located in 24 states in 42 locations, there are outlets stores from BCBG Max Azria to Kenneth Cole to Ralph Lauren to Crate and Barrel to Burberry, Calvin Klein and Dior. Extensive range of shops especially designer brands where you can obtain large discounts.

Prime Outlets- mostly on the east coast, the selection is generally not as wide as the Premium Outlets, but again shoppers can find designer bargains.