KENTWOOD, MICH. - It’s hard to go anywhere in West Michigan recently without seeing a “store closing” sign.
The signs promise discounts: 10, 20, even 50-percent off. But are they good deals?
"Sales are wonderful things," says Kevin Lehnert, a marketing professor at Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University. "We love to get a deal."
As the WZZM 13 Consumer Reporter, I, Sarah Sell, wanted to find out if those deals turned out to be steals. My first stop was Sears. I immediately noticed the Land’s End children’s clothing.
As a mother, I know it can be slightly more expensive than other brands. The sign said 50 percent off. That seemed like a pretty good deal. In fact, most of the apparel was 50-60 percent off.
“When a store is liquidating, they may not be able to take that inventory and repurpose it or move it someplace else," Lehnert said.
The opposite is true for items, such as tools. In the hardware department, most items were only 20-30 percent off. You can get similar prices elsewhere.
The other items can be tricky to figure out. For example, I discovered that many of the products had new tags with the manufacturers retail price. A piece of Samsonite luggage said the retail price is $379.99. On sale for 50 percent off, it's $189.99. Online at sears.com, it's only $137. I found it even cheaper on other sites.
"So, they may take a deal and mark it up from that every day low price to manufacturers retail price and discount it from there," Lehnert said. "It may seem a little dishonest, yes."
My next stop was MC Sports.The going out of business sale is in its early stages. Most of the inventory is 10 percent off. Not good enough for fellow shopper Katie Burton.
"I thought it would be better, but I'll keep my eyes on some things," she said.
Here, I decided that there is something to be said about getting it "in the store": The kayaks are 15 percent off. The regular price says $249, which seems consistent with other stores. But add in the discount and it is a bit cheaper.
"You can't try out sporting equipment or that kayak online," Lehnert said. "So, there's still a value in that."
Over in shoes, WZZM 13 reporter Emma Nicolas was looking at soccer cleats. She's in a pinch and needs them tonight. So, after confirming the best price online, she bought them.
"They were $28," she said. "They go for $25 used, so not bad."
Overall, there were a few good deals, but not what some might expect for a going out of business sale.
The best advice? Lehnert says go in knowing what you want to spend and if it's below that, it's a good deal for you.
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