Outlet malls can save you big money - as much as 70 per cent -- but what is the quality like?  Chris Olsen has a side-by-side comparison.

With 220 stores, Woodbury Common Premium Outlets in Central Valley, New York, is the biggest outlet mall in the United States.

To shoppers, it's a slice of heaven.

"Much more affordable prices," one shopper said.

Consumer Reports' ShopSmart found you can get more for less when you shop at outlets, but how good is the merchandise?

"Some outlets carry the exact same items as regular retail stores, but others don't. The differences can be big or small," Jody Rohlena said.

ShopSmart compared prices of two outfits, one bought from retail stores, the other from merchandise specially made for the outlet stores. The retail outfit totaled $771. The one from the outlets was only $312 -- less than half the cost.

A Banana Republic skirt cost $79 retail and $30 at the outlet.

"The outlet skirt has a bit of polyester in it. So it's machine washable, which is convenient. But the flagship skirt is less likely to pill and it has a lot nicer lining," Rohlena said.

A J-Crew blouse is $88 retail and about $48 at the outlet.

"Both blouses are made of pure silk. But the edges of the ruffles on the outlet store blouse are more likely to fray," she said.

And then there are two Coach bags -- $448 retail, compared to $130 at the outlet. The store bag has softer leather and softer lining. It also has more pockets and sturdier hardware.

The bottom line? ShopSmart says if you're looking for something that's going to last through wear and tear, like a bag or shoes, you might want to spend more on a better made item.

"If you're shopping for price alone, the outlets almost always win," Rohlena said.

Consumer Reports' ShopSmart says to be aware that return policies at outlets can be stricter than retail stores, so be sure to check. Another great way to save is to join the frequent-shopper programs available at many outlet stores.

Just remember -- value is measured by quality and price, not by price alone.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Chris Olsen