Know your actual retail price. Even though I don't visit the mall very often, when I do, I'll take a few minutes to wander stores like Gymboree and Sears to see what's new in stores, and check out the sales - as well as what the original price was. Using Gymboree as my example, I know that they often have very good sales, and I can get a complete outfit for under $25 for my daughter, accessories and all. I know if I visit the Gymboree's Outlet, the prices are often about the same as the sale price at the mall. In this case, I'll save my husband some driving and just raid the sale rack at the mall! Other times, I know the deals can be much better at the outlet version. Knowing the retail price means you can tell if the 50% off sign really makes it a deal or not.
Know your tags. Certain stores have certain tags depending on what store it's being sent to. Going back to Gymboree, they specifically make certain lines just for the outlet store, and you can tell the difference between what didn't sell at the mall stall vs this line by the tag. It's not meant to sound snobby, but rather some of the material used for outlet store only lines might be thinner to save the company money. Other stores might simply slash the tag as to stop folks from trying to return them to their other retail outlets improperly. You can also sometimes tell when the item was carried in retail stores by the year written on the back of the inner tags. While it might not matter to you, it might matter when gift giving. I've seen items in the outlets that were five years old!
Read those tags and signs! When you're purchasing electronics, you'll want to check if the items are refurbished, or a previous customer return. Again, while it might not matter to you, it could matter when gift giving. You'll also want to find out if your purchase(s) are returnable if they don't work or don't fit.
Ask the sales staff if there is a mailing list. Not only will you get a heads up as to when there will be serious deals at your favorite outlet store, sometimes they'll also send you special coupons that will give you an even better discount. Of course, you don't have to go every time you receive a sale notice, but if you pay attention, you might notice there's a pattern to those sales, and can anticipate and plan a trip around it. This tactic work great especially if you are driving an hour or more to get to the outlet mall.
Find the clearance racks! Almost all outlet stores will have a clearance rack or two, usually hidden towards the back of the stores. Here you'll find the rock bottom deals, but you'll have to really look through them. Keep your eyes wide open, and don't just let the price win you over: sometimes these items are customer returns that have been worn, might have a flaw in the pattern, missing a button, or have a broken zipper. Check all snaps, button holes, zippers to make sure they work, and skim the seams of the garment to make sure there is nothing lurking you won't be able to fix - after all, it's not a deal if you buy it, and it sits in the closet forever because of a missing button! Also beware size tags that are mismarked in this area - something might be a size 12, but it really fits like a size 2!
Shop ahead! Make your list of gifts you might need throughout the year, and while you are shopping, keep your eyes peeled for the good deals that fits your list. If you often attend baby showers (those seem to come in triples, don't they?), look for deals on small add-on gifts such as little socks and hats. Every so often in the past, I've spotted accessories like that on clearance at The Children's Place Outlet Store - as low as 10 cents each! As you can imagine, I stocked up and was able to spoil a few friends with a little extra thanks to the fabulous bargains I had scored.