Don’t Let Store Closing Sales Fool You — Here’s How To Spot A Real Deal

With retailers going out of business and liquidating merchandise weekly, you might be inclined to check out some store closing sales in your area.

Liquidation sales are a great opportunity to score deals on discounted items that you can give as gifts during the holidays.

But buyers beware: before you begin crossing gifts off of your shopping list, be sure you’re not overspending on liquidation merchandise… Don’t be fooled by “store closing” sales. Here’s how to spot a “real deal.”

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Flickr/Phillip Pessar

Check Prices Online Before You Buy

Stories of retailers jacking up prices before putting them on markdown are becoming all too familiar… While we hate to think that liquidators would do such a thing, it is completely possible. Remember: stores under liquidation are trying to pay their creditors back during these tough times. Therefore, always be aware of the original retail price of an item (before markdowns,) to understand if after the markdowns you’re getting a “real deal.” A quick search using your smartphone on Amazon or the retailer’s e-commerce site can quickly help to clarify the pricing of an item before you buy it.   

Avoid Buying Major Appliances, Electronics, and Warranties

During liquidation sales, return policies and warranties become void almost immediately. Rather than dealing with the hassle of damaged or faulty electronics and major appliances after you’ve brought them home, we recommend avoiding buying these types of items altogether.

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Flickr/Phillip Pessar

Pay Attention To Dates

Typically when a store files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and liquidates its stores, the liquidations are handled by an outsourced company. These companies will lay out all of the ground rules for shopping the sale, including when gift cards will stop being accepted and approximate end dates for the sales.

By paying close attention to these important dates, you can ensure you don’t get stuck with a useless gift card and you’ll get a better idea of when the big discounts are coming, which leads us to our next tip…

Wait until the Last Few Weeks Before Closing to Shop

Most liquidation sales follow a staggered discount format. Week 1 of liquidation sales will see shelves stocked with merchandise and only a 10-20% price reduction. While several weeks later, the discounts will increase closer to 50-70% off, however, the quantity and quality of merchandise remaining in-store will dwindle.

With that being said, you get the very best liquidation sale deals in the 1-2 weeks before an actual store closes its doors. While most stores won’t tell you the exact date they are closing — as it depends on leases and how quickly stock is sold — you can usually find approximate dates. It’s also always worth asking an associate in-store in order to coordinate the best time to make a return trip back to the store to take advantage of the biggest markdowns.

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Visit multiple store locations and visit often

If a big chain is liquidating its stores, it’s worth it to visit multiple locations if you have the time. Sometimes leases of stores will end earlier than others, which means product can get consolidated with other stores. Plus, each store will have varying inventory and selection, so you never know what you could find at a discount. Not to mention, if the store closing is a store you loved, it’ll likely be your last chance to shop it!

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