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Sears Canada liquidation sales start today

Last Updated Oct 19, 2017 at 8:07 am PDT

Sears at Metropolis at Metrotown (October, 2017) (John Ackermann, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Retail expert says Sears Canada liquidation sales could kickstart the holiday shopping season

Retail consultant says its buyer beware, when it comes to Sears liquidation sales

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Bargain hunters will be on the prowl today.

The liquidation of Sears Canada starts today, with the chain’s entire inventory being sold off over the coming few months. But a local retail consultant is reminding shoppers that the real deals may not come until later in the process.

“Generally, liquidations take place over an extended period of time and it begins with a lot of hype — ads on TV and on social media — but the job of the liquidator is to try and bring as much money back in as possible to cover off debts and expense owing,” says David Ian Gray with Vancouver’s DIG360.

He points out the big discounts generally don’t happen right out of the gate.

“It might be similar to Black Friday in that there’s a lot of hype but not a lot of terrific bargains in the first week,” Gray tells NEWS 1130.

“It will strictly be based on what can move. If, in the first few weeks, certain products are moving pretty quickly at the price they’re set at, they’ll keep them there. Other products that are slow moving will get marked down. By the time you get to the end of the cycle, everything is either going to be marked down dramatically or whatever is left will be bundled up and distributed to third parties that will handle off sales and that sort of thing.”

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Gray suggests savvy shoppers will also be competing against resellers looking to make a quick buck.

“You could see a little bit of that. You can’t plan on it. It would be very opportunistic. I’ve heard of some mom and pop operators doing that sort of thing — even Costco sells product that gets resold — but I think it’s more likely we will see people buying particularly good deals and reselling online or on Amazon from home. We’ve seen that happen more and more but I don’t believe that will be the bulk of the sales.”

If you do find a deal at Sears, Gray has a word of caution.

“It’s buyer beware. By and large, most stores will be liquidating fashion items. Like any other liquidation sale, it might slightly defective but there’s going to be no return. Once you’ve bought it, the store will be done soon after.”

Gray also believes the liquidation of Sears could kickstart the holiday shopping season, which would be good for consumers but tougher on retailers.

“Where Sears is in a shopping centre, the stores that are situated around it — its other competitors — unfortunately will be drawn into the price-cutting to keep shoppers going into their stores. They’re going to have to look like they are offering something as well,” he explains, pointing to a Leger study commissioned by DIG360 earlier this year.

“We found that 72 per cent of Canadians wait for sales to shop at department stores. That’s right in line with Sears starting an early sale cycle that, by and large, will run right through Black Friday and the holidays.”

Sears Canada has been operating under court protection from creditors since June and received permission last week to liquidate its assets and wind down operations starting today.

Sears Canada currently has 74 full department store locations, eight Sears Home Stores, and 49 Sears Hometown stores, which all face closure.