Liquidation Sales May Not be Steals

It's no secret, stores are in trouble.

The International Council of Shopping Centers says 148,000 stores closed last year, and 73,000 are expected to close in the first half of this year.

In Bryan-College Station, Linens n' Things shut its doors a month ago and in 10 days Circuit City will close for good.

However, before the mega electronics store shuts down, everything must go.

The discounts look enticing, but I wanted to find out if you're getting the best deals at liquidation sales?

When you see the sign in the window "Going out of business, everything must go," you're temped to walk inside. And that's what I did, but for a different reason. I wanted to find out if you can get a good deal at a liquidation sale.

I noted the prices of three different items at Circuit City. I then headed online to compare those prices at other major retailers.

At Circuit City a 46'' Samsung LCD TV (Model# LN46A650) is $1679, with the 20-percent discount. We found it online at Sears and Best Buy for $2099.99

A Sony DVD Handycam Camcorder (Model# DCR-DVD810) is $319.99 at Circuit City. On Amazon.com, it's listed for $319.94. It's on sale at Best Buy for $379.99

I also priced the VIZIO 42'' LCD TV (Model# SV420XVT1A). At Circuit City it's $959, at Sears it's $999.99, and I found it Wal-Mart for $1,097.

While Circuit City does have lower prices on most items, they are not significantly lower. Experts say there are some disadvantages to shopping liquidation sales.

First, in the early days of a sale, stores only discount items about 10 percent.

"They bring in liquidation specialists, experts to manage every aspect of the sale and they get a percentage," CBS News Analyst Vera Gibbons. "Profit is based on those sales, so their objective is to sell as much as possible but at the best price."

Two, remember that sales are final. Make sure all the necessary parts are in the box before you leave the store, and look for products that come with a manufacturer's warranty. If something breaks down the road, the retailer won't be of any help to you.

Three, pay with a credit card. If you wind up wanting your money back, this is your best shot.

"If you have defective merchandise and you want your money back and credit card issuer decides you deserve that money back because they've talked to both sides you are going to have that protection," Gibbons said. "With cash you don't have that protection."

Four, you won't find knowledgeable sales help. Liquidation specialists typically don't know much about the items they're selling.

"They're there to sell, sell, sell," Gibbons said. "They're at the cash register ringing up sales they're not on the sales floor answering technical questions."

I've done more comparison shopping for you. You can find the latest deals on flat screen televisions, by clicking on our new Saving You Money site. Just click on the business page, where you'll find a link to Saving You Money. You can also click on the link below.


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