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6 ways NOT to hold a successful close-out sale

“Wasted time is no bargain! I want those two hours back!”

Who hasn’t felt that way after attending a crowded close-out sale, particularly if the advertised bargains proved to be no great deals at all?

Something is definitely amiss here.

A group of us went to a widely promoted store-closing liquidation sale. We parked three blocks away and stood a line that wrapped around the building, waiting for the doors to open. We dug through piles of merchandise, hunting for sweet savings.

Alas, the shopping was basically a bust!

Sure, we picked up a few items, but we didn’t find any deep discounts. We can easily find better deals by shopping online and in big-box discount stores for similar items.

Store managers, are you listening?

After an informal survey (OK, I chatted up the crowds in the check-out lines), I can offer these six steps to surefire failure for stores offering close-out sales.

1. Go for the big bang with the old bait-and-switch trick.

The store hosting this particular sale practiced this ploy. Pre-sale promotional flyers announced that multiple vendors were offering exceptional merchandise. Upon arrival, we discovered the same old stuff they always stocked.

2. Offer minimal discounts on originally overpriced items.

Smart shoppers know the difference. A quick internet price comparison reveals the truth. Marking prices up – just to mark them down for a sale – does not work with savvy browsers.

3. Try to market poor imitation merchandise as premium products.

Who has an eye for quality? Experienced buyers can tell vinyl from leather, plastic from plywood and veneers from real materials. Customers checking labels and touching products are not easily conned into shelling out for fakes, even on sale.

4. Trim cashier staff before the sale.

A store-closing sale is not the time to cut employee hours. Even if super discounts abound, customers will not stand for standing in line for hours to pick up a few deals.

5. Proclaim in print that all items must go, but mark certain fixtures as not for sale.

Clothing racks, shelving units, file cabinets and furniture are often included in liquidation sales. Retailers who do not intend to market everything but built-in fixtures should not trumpet “Everything must go” in sale ads.

6. Tag the event as a store-closing sale, even if you’re not really closing for a while.

Who let the cat out of the bag on this one? How many marketers host store-closing sales to draw in past and potential customers, only to remain open after all?

Honestly. Do retailers really believe the public is clueless?

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