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by Dana Hunsinger

Outside, the parking lot is packed. Inside the stores is a bustling scene.

There are lines to the dressing rooms. There are lines to check out — savvy shoppers snatching up super-good deals.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Edinburgh Premium Outlets, about 40 miles south of Indianapolis off I-65.

But it’s not even close to the holiday shopping season. It’s just a typical August day — in the midst of an economic downturn.

“This place is so crowded, and it’s a Tuesday morning, for Pete’s sake,” said Chuck Walters, who was loaded down with shopping bags from Calvin Klein, Levi’s and Nike. “I was just wondering why that would be.”

Retailers, analysts and consumers say there’s an easy answer. In this economy, consumers are looking for bargains — any way they can stretch their dollar but still get the quality and name brands from retailers such as Coach, Nine West and American Eagle Outfitters.

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