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Back to the factory

Everyone loves a bargain. Thousands of people fighting over remaindered china and discounted clothing in the sales every year are eloquent proof of this fact.

However, a bargain is only a real one if it is of genuine use to you and costs only a fraction of its perceived value.

All too often, the so-called bargain turns out to be a load of worthless tat that no one in their right mind would want if it were not available in a sale.

Factory shops, where quality goods are permanently sold at discount prices, are useful for saving money on classic items. The centres are run by manufacturers and retailers, selling last season's stock, slow-moving items and discontinued lines, at prices far lower than those in the high street.

The first outlet, pioneered by Clarks, the shoe shop, opened in Street, Somerset, in 1993. Today, there are at least 13 similar outlets throughout the UK, from Bicester to Doncaster, Cheshire, Kendal and West Lothian.

Each outlet contains a varying range of shops, selling different selections of clothing, electrical goods, houseware and even books.

Delta, the Visa debit card, has published a free guide to factory outlets in the UK, with information on what is sold in each one and directions on how to get there. For free copies of the guide, call 0171 231 5432