The seemingly inevitable happened yesterday when Borders — the latest victim among wounded booksellers — announced that it was shuttering its remaining 399 stores. And while the constant mention of upcoming "liquidation sales" will surely make deal shoppers perk up in eager anticipation, dealnews has found that, historically, these sales are more so laced with smoke and mirrors than genuine value.
The news was probably not surprising, since Borders filed for bankruptcy in February and swiftly closed approximately 30% of its stores. Liquidation sales soon followed, and initially, they took 20% to 40% off, according to NewsObserver.com. While obviously nothing heart stopping, the discounts still motivated consumers to clear Borders inventory.
However, in the time since Borders declared bankruptcy, dealnews has listed 22 coupons for discounts ranging from 30% to 50% off. You heard that right: Everyday Borders coupons offered better savings than the merchant's initial store-closing sales.
Obviously one cannot hope for a coupon this time around, but, if Borders does indeed roll out discounts that are comparable to its initial round of liquidation sales, then it will be offering middling markdowns at best — and in some cases, falling short of its regular post-coupon prices.
The Reason Behind Modest Markdowns
Liquidation sales are often run by an outside party that buys the merchant's remaining stock, resets prices to MSRP, and then begins slashing prices.
When Circuit City similarly held liquidation sales two years ago, dealnews ran a price analysis of a handful of items that were featured in the sale. Not surprisingly (for us at least), most of them were available for less elsewhere, some by an enormous margin. And since The Wall Street Journal reported today that Borders is seeking to sell off its assets to begin liquidation as early as Friday, it's reasonable to think we might see a similar trend with the fallen bookseller.
Incentive To Wait
While we cannot say with certainty what the last-ditch discounts were for that first round of Borders store-closing sales, our research does indicate that, historically, the best liquidation cuts (around 80% to 90% off) occur 6 to 8 weeks in. So, while you can't expect a coupon this time, you can at least wait patiently for better markdowns.
Of course, you then run the risk of shopping from a greatly-diminished selection of goods. If you simply must check out the upcoming Borders sale, dealnews urges shoppers to proceed with caution; better deals are likely available elsewhere, and you would benefit from keeping your smartphone handy to check other vendors, as well as relevant coupons at dealnews.
Photo credit: jblyberg via Flickr