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4 Tips for Navigating Store Liquidation Sales

When we see huge signs that read ‘Going Out of Business’ or ‘Everything Must Go’ -- we may feel some compassion for the store employees who are about to lose their jobs.

When we see huge signs that read ‘Going Out of Business’ or ‘Everything Must Go’ -- we may feel some compassion for the store employees who are about to lose their jobs. But on the other hand, we bargain hunters may feel some excitement at the prospect of scoring a deal.

In the past couple of years, we’ve seen quite a few retailers hold liquidation sales. In 2017, Sears Canada received court approval to proceed with a full liquidation of its remaining stores. And earlier this year, Toys ‘R’ Us announced it would close all of its U.S. stores, putting some 30,000 employees out of work.

As soon as the word is out that a retailer is shutting down, many consumers are on the lookout for the liquidation sales that usually follow. But sometimes, you may not be getting the best deals. That’s why we’ve come up with a list of tips to help you navigate store closing sales.

Tip #1: Look up retail prices before the liquidation sale
As soon as the sale sign goes up, you can bet liquidators will want to squeeze as much money out of the consumer. Be sure to check out retail prices before you head out on that shopping spree. This way, you’ll have a better sense of what’s a bargain and what isn’t.

For example, when Sears Canada began liquidating its assets, it promised consumers discounts of 20 to 50 percent off. But many shoppers took to social media to complain the deals were underwhelming. Some of the more significant items like treadmills and snowboards were only 10 percent off, angering consumers who had stood in long lines to check out the sales.

Some liquidators will increase prices right up to the manufacturer’s suggested level, and then offer the discount from there. This creates the illusion of a deal when you could have easily bought the item cheaper elsewhere. If you’re looking for a specific item, research prices beforehand. Liquidation sales don’t automatically mean great deals.

Also, if you find the prices are quite similar, it may not be worth it to purchase the item from the liquidator. All sales are final when businesses are shutting down, so you’ll have no way of returning the product if you’re not happy with it.

Tip #2: Use price comparison apps
Make good use of price comparison apps like ShopSavvy to see if the liquidator’s price is the cheapest. Most of the prominent liquidation companies start with a 20% discount then lower the prices from there. To keep track of discounts, continuously check out retail prices for the store being liquidated. But don’t wait too long before making the purchase because you may not get the best selection. Consumer experts say the most significant discounts are applied to toys and clothing, due to their larger profit margins. You’ll often find that the discounts are the worst on electronics.

Meanwhile, don’t be duped by big loud signs that scream ‘Everything Must Go!’ They’re designed to give off a sense of immediacy, forcing consumers to make impulse purchases. Instead, take a minute to do your research so you can be confident you are getting a good deal.

Tip #3: Inspect all merchandise carefully
Sales are usually final at liquidation sales, which means you must be entirely sure you like the product and that there are no defects. If you’re interested in a particular item, scrutinize the merchandise. If possible, try to open the packaging to get a hands-on look. Check that all parts and mechanisms are in working order. If an assembly is required, be sure all nuts, bolts, and supporting accessories are included. Also, check for any chips and scratches as exchanges won’t be allowed either.

If you’re purchasing perishables, be sure they all have far-out expiration dates. This not only goes for food items but baby car seats too. Check the manufacturer’s date and follow the guidelines on expiration. Many businesses will try to offload closeout merchandise or surplus inventory that has been sitting on warehouse shelves for months, or even years.

Tip #4: Shop with your credit card or gift card
If you have a gift card for a retailer that’s in financial trouble, use it immediately. Some businesses will stop accepting them when filing for bankruptcy, so it’s best to get your money’s worth before it’s too late. In general, closing stores must honour gift cards. And if the store is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, gift card holders remain pretty high on the list of people to be paid off.

It’s also a good idea to make purchases on your credit card. Many credit card companies will offer you some form of protection should you run into a problem with your liquidation purchase.

For more information on liquidation sales, call Michaels Global Trading at 1-888-471-5066 or contact us here.

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