When a store is going out of business, many shoppers assume that’s the best time to buy. Rush out on your lunch hour right after the news breaks so you’ll have the best selection. After all, the prices should be the lowest ever at the store. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
Going-out-of-business sales can be a bounty of bargains. And, due to the recession, virtually everything can be found at one store or another. These days, clothing, jewelry, furniture, even food is all up for grabs these days at going-out-of business sales. Smart shoppers save a ton on stocking up their pantry, redecorating their home and even stocking up on Christmas presents for next year. Those shoppers, though, know that the best bargains aren’t going to happen in the first days or weeks. Follow their lead and you’ll save some major bucks.
First, anticipate the sale. If a company is publicly owned, like Goody’s or Circuit City (both recent victims of the economic downturn), rumors of the store’s demise will be making business page headlines months before the closing is “officially” announced. In the case of Goody’s, bankruptcy was filed seven months before the company actually began liquidation. That was a big heads up to the store’s shoppers.
What should you do when you hear the first inklings that a store’s demise is likely? Begin with a prayer for the employees who will lose their jobs. Then, start planning how you and your family can benefit.
Decide if there’s anything in the store that you absolutely can’t live without. Perhaps you bought a sofa and have been saving for the matching love seat that’s only available at the Mom-and-Pop Bargain Furniture Store. Start saving a little more if you notice business is really slow. When the announcement is made, buy it then. This advice only goes for must-have pieces. In the case of a clothing store, if you’ve bought a skirt and you’re waiting for the jacket to be marked down, you’ll want to act quickly.
That early news would have also steered you away from giving gift cards or any items that may have been returned to these stores. If you have a gift card to a store that’s showing up on the business pages, spend it immediately. Maybe you won’t be able to get exactly what you want, but you’ll be able to get something. Wii Fit may not be available, but Wii Bowling beats a worthless piece of plastic any day. Stores can close without notice and most of the small print on those gift cards do not require cash refunds in case of closures.
You may be wondering why I’m insisting that you only buy things that you feel you must have, the things you almost can’t live without, the things you’ve had an eye on for years. The reason is simple. Prices are probably not going to be much lower even on the day a bankruptcy is announced. Prices will certainly drop, but prices then become controlled by a liquidation company who may have six months to clear out the store. That company wants to make every possible dollar.
Those who shop Goody’s have likely experienced this in the past few weeks. The clothing store has locations in about 30 states and all of them are closing. Regular customers know Goody’s marked prices are never the real prices. Prices, in my opinion, are inflated just to be marked down. This is a common retail strategy and Goody’s isn’t the only company to do it. It does make a good difference when you shop a going-out-of-business sale.
The day the liquidators took over Goody’s, a huge “30 Percent Off Entire Inventory” banner appeared at my local store. The problem was that most items were 40-60 percent off the day before, when the store was still in Goody’s hands. Prices actually went up.
Prices will drop sooner at stores like Circuit City, who have been priced competitively. Still, liquidators will need time to take inventory and prices may not change during this time. Liquidators may also be hoping that another big box store will step in and buy the entire inventory.
Hopefully, we’ve seen the worst of the economic downturn and the number of future stores to sink will be only a few. That will make it even more important for shoppers to get the most from the final sales!