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Liquidation sale strategies for Sears, Kmart, Lowe’s and more

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Hundreds of stores across the country are closing up shop as many major retailers like Sears, Kmart and Lowe’s restructure. While many are calling it a retail apocalypse, for consumers it can mean liquidation sales and amazing discounts.

But how can you get the most out of those liquidation sales? The Krazy Coupon Lady’s Joanie Demer has some tips.

“In this game, there are winners and losers, and the losers are being forced to liquidate inventory, creating a lot of buzz too late to actually help their business,” Demer tells Yahoo Finance. “Liquidation sales are everywhere. It's like the theme of 2018.”

Only fools rush in

First and foremost? Demer says not to jump on reductions too soon.

“I've been there at these liquidation sales. I was there when Toys ‘R’ Us opened their doors and there was a line of a 100 people out the door,” she says. “But you know what? The average savings was 10% the day the Toys ‘R’ Us liquidation began. I watched all these people go in and come out with carts full of the stuff and I wanted to scream, ‘These aren’t even good prices! You can get this stuff cheaper on Amazon right now.’”

For the savvy consumer, the question remains: When will you actually start seeing good discounts?

“Typically, discounts start in a really low way. If there's a lot of buzz around the day that liquidation starts, I would skip it,” Demer says. “But the trick is you've got to check back often. It's about vigilance and finding a way to make sure that you're not missing out when they finally crank up those discounts.”

For example, liquidation sales at Sears locations began earlier this fall, but smart shoppers will start heading out to comb the aisles now. “Sears is actually pretty liquidated at this point, so the discounts are going to be high,” Demer says. “It's definitely a good time to go in and check it out. You can expect to see inventory fairly picked over, but that's when the hunt is the most rewarding.”

As for what specifics types of items to search for, Demer says apparel categories see the deepest discounts, while tools and home improvement items at Sears will be more difficult to find at significant savings.

Check out Lowe’s

Speaking of home improvement, Lowe’s is shuttering 20 U.S. stores across 13 states, plus another 27 in Canada. “The stores in the U.S. are actually all in close proximity to another brick and mortar location,” Demer says. “So I'm hoping that this isn't actually the apocalypse for Lowe's, simply a smart business strategy to cut some of their losses.”

That means the retailer will be moving a lot of inventory to other locations rather than liquidating, but there are still opportunities for savings -- though more likely only up to 20%.

“Ten to 20% savings at Lowe's actually gets me really excited,” Demer says. “At Sears, no way. Skip it. But Lowe's doesn’t have discounts like that, and they don't overprice their inventory, so if you're seeing a 20% savings at Lowe's and you need to fix up your house, I would jump on it.”

There are more

Those three retailers aren’t the only ones closing hundreds of locations. Rite Aid and the Children's Place are also seeing store closures — which could mean liquidation sale savings.

“The writing has been on the wall with Rite Aid for a long time. I'm sure in 2019 we're going to see more closures as well as many of the Rite Aid stores likely being rebranded into Walgreens,” Demer says.

But don’t necessarily expect Rite Aid to look to shed stock via liquidation, as most will be shifted over to Walgreens locations.

“I don't expect to see liquidation sales at most Rite Aid locations,” Demer says. “At least two-thirds to 80 percent of inventory will eventually just be rebranded.”

As for the Children’s Place, store closings aren’t necessarily a sign of doom and gloom.

“I think theirs feels more like a shift toward online,” Demer says. “My hope is that the online sales are good enough for the Children’s Place that while we’re losing some brick and mortar locations, they're going to stay a viable company.”

This story was originally published on December 14, 2018.

Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter.

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