The store closing sales have begun at 180 Toys R Us stores closing this spring. And that may not be all of it: the Wall Street Journal reports they could close 200 more in 2018, which would be half of the company's stores.
But before you rush over to grab some toy bargains at closing stores, we have a caution about what you may find.
Signs promise great deals
With signs saying "up to 40 percent off," Sarah Fisher came looking for deals at one of the many Toys R Us stores now closing.
"We came in just for the sale. I have two babies 13 months apart and we are just trying to get some stuff for them," the hopeful mom said.
But once inside, she found no markdowns on diapers. A sign states that Pampers and Huggies are not part of the closing sale.
And she discovered no discounts on Lego sets with a yellow dot on the price sticker, which included most larger sets, like Star Wars.
And "up to 40 percent" does not mean 40 percent off, as Laurie Anderson learned.
"I don't know that I saw anything for 40 percent off," she said. "Most of it was 20 percent, and there was a lot of 10 percent. A lot of the infant stuff was 10 percent off."
Check prices first
So if you plan to shop your local Toys R Us, the best way to check out a store closing sale is not with a big, empty shopping cart, but your smartphone.
Before you grab that item at 20 percent off, check prices at Amazon and Walmart, just to make sure you are really getting a deal. Or use a price comparison app like RedLaser.
Stores eliminate all sale prices before a liquidation sale starts, so you are getting just 20 percent off the full list price, which often is not much of a deal.
We compared prices, and found a few decent deals, but a few real duds.
- A Graco Nautilus 65LX car seat was $169, on sale for $152 at Toys R Us. But we found it for $144 on Amazon with free shipping for Prime members.
- A Call of Duty Infinite Warfare video game was marked 20 percent off, which brought it down to $48. But Walmart.com had it for just $24.62, more than $20 less.
We found a few good sales:
- Disney "Beauty and the Beast" Grand Romance figures, marked down to $31.98, were $3 cheaper than Walmart.com or Target.com.
- And Peg Perego motorized cars, in the $150 - $400 range, were cheaper at Toys R Us than we could find anywhere else.
Shopper Lanice Williams says while the sale wasn't quite what she hoped, her little boy is happy.
"I got my son a whole lot of toys for his birthday and we spent less than we thought we were going to spend," she said.
This is standard for liquidation sales, and Toys R Us is doing nothing wrong. You usually have to wait several weeks for real discounts in the 50 percent or 75 percent variety (though selection will be minimal).
Store closing sales -- no matter what the store -- are always best shopped with skepticism.
Make sure it's really a deal, and remember that whatever you buy likely cannot be returned, so you don't waste your money.
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