Sunday, January 18, 2009

Circuit City Goes Dark

Circuit City

It was announced that Circuit City was unable to secure more financing or to find a buyer for its troubled business.  They have started an immediate liquidation sale at all their stores.

This has been a long time coming.  Without getting into too much detail, I had a lot of dealings with Circuit City at a business level.  I was, to say the least, not impressed with them.  When you compared them to companies like Best Buy, it was hard to see how Circuit City was ever going to make a comeback.  I predicted that a major retailer would go under this year.   While this one does not count toward that prediction, lots of people expected this, it really does not forebode well for the economy going forward.   Circuit City hires about 30,000 people.  That's 30,000 jobs that just vanished.  To make things worse, this probably will serve as a domino effect.  That is, Circuit City is often found in either malls or shopping centers.  These types of stores are considered "anchor stores".  They drive traffic to the other stores as people tend to like to do their shopping all at once.

I actually went to a Circuit City this past weekend to see if there was anything worth buying.  Let me go on record as saying almost all Liquidation sales are a complete waste, and this one is no exception.  I could go on a long post about how liquidators dupe consumers in these sales but I digress.  Let me just say this.  The particular Circuit City I went to was packed.  I had never seen it quite so full.  Walking in to the store, there were long lines as people were waiting their turn at the undermanned cashiers.  As I walked around the store, I saw several signs for either 10-30% off the original price.  Is this a good deal?  Not sure how people think that it is.

You can buy almost anything online for 10-30% off.  Seriously, just go to Amazon and do a little bit of shopping.  Almost everything there is at least 10% off the MSRP.  All most liquidation sales do is to mark things back up to the original price, and then take the discount off the top.  While 10-30% is nothing to sneeze at, it also is not as good of a deal as it seems.  I checked out several TV's and sound systems just to gauge how much one might "save" and pretty much everything I looked at could be had for cheaper at Amazon and for us Californians had without sales tax.  Yet here was a store full of people waiting in Christmas-like lines to get these "discounts".  If this is not some sort of commentary on the American Consumer, I am not sure what is.


  1. I also went this weekend with my dad and Gavin to see what deals there were (both Gavin and my dad were interested--I was along for the ride). In the end, I ended up getting a video game (Little Big Planet for 10% off, which is cheaper than I can get it on Amazon [new], which was a deal for me, since I was planning on buying it for Gavin anyway) and some stuff to clean my laptop screen, which is what I have been intending on doing a number of months now but just hadn't gotten around to it. The rest of the stuff in the store was not a good deal. Gavin recently bought a Sony TV through Dell for just over $1000, I think, and it was WAY more at Circuit City.

  2. Yes, I think you found the one thing that might be a good deal at Circuit City. Games which are normally full price no matter where you buy them. Everything else, not really worth it. You might find a good bargain here and there, but nothing that is a screaming bargain. Things like that, the liquidators just move to other stores where they can get better prices on them.

  3. K & I also went. We actually had stopped by Costco to get some price comparisons. And even with the discounts none of the TVs were a great price. To top it off, most of the better TVs were already out of stock at that location. We did find a couple things that were good prices. What amazed me is how they had to ring up purchases. They had to scan it all to add it, scan it all to remove it, and then scan it all back in and modify the prices manually. So this basically tripled the workload for some understaffed cashiers. In the end, I'm glad we went (and early), but the reality is we're going to do a lot more serious shopping for our planned purchases.

  4. I too was disappointed by the sales.

  5. How they rang things up is actually pretty normal I bet for a liquidation. You have to understand how liquidations work. What they are selling is not what was necessarily what was in the store to begin with. Liquidators often bring in merchandise from other locations to sell in the "sale". They empty all the inventory in the store. Then, everything is scanned in to put it in inventory since it may not be from that store in the first place.