Going-Out-of-Business Sales Not Always Such a Bargain

"I think anything that they put a 'sale' sign on, people are going to be more inclined to buy," another said.

The Companies Respond

Circuit City told us its closing stores are in the hands of the liquidators now and directed us to them.

Linens N Things dissolved itself in bankruptcy court and doesn't really exist anymore. Hilco Merchant Resources spoke for the six liquidators that are now selling Linens N Things' merchandise and the two running the Circuit City liquidations.

Hilco said, "Federal and state laws exist to guide liquidators in going-out-of-business sales and they abide by these laws in every respect."

Hilco acknowledged that liquidators often raise prices back to the regular selling price and then discount from there. To explain why we found prices at regular Circuit City stores were the same or lower for a third of products we checked, Hilco said, "[Circuit City is] continuing to price their merchandise to be as competitive as possible with other retailers. As a result of aggressive pricing by Circuit City, it is very possible that prices on certain items in the closing stores could be higher..."

Hilco acknowledged it is common to bring in outside merchandise for a going-out-of-business sale. Liquidators call it "product augmentation."

Hilco said it was not aware that the Virginia Linens 'n Things we visited was using "before" and "after" comparison prices on its rugs.

Bagging a Bargain

So what's the best strategy to bag a bargain? It's not that you can't get good deals at going-out-of-business sales. You can. Just don't assume the prices are lower there. You need to shop around as you would with any other purchase. For the products we priced, we often could find cheaper deals online.

Sometimes competitors that are not going out of business will drop their prices to compete with the liquidation sale, so check them out too.

And keep in mind that the discounts get deeper as the liquidation sale goes on, but the merchandise gets thinner too, so it's a balancing act.

If you have gift cards for Linens 'n Things or Circuit City, both chains are still accepting them at their liquidation sales.

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