What sale? Borders jacks up prices
A comparison of going-out-of-business prices at the bookseller with its prices the week before will shock you.
This guest post comes from Lindsay Sakraida of dealnews.
Last week, we adamantly advised against shopping the Borders liquidation sales, and this week we have proof that the store-closing discounts are woefully underwhelming.
Before liquidation began, we visited the Borders store in the Time Warner Center in New York and noted the price of several books and select movies. Then, we returned on Saturday to note the post-"everything must go" prices -- and discovered that 19 out of 25 items were cheaper last week, while five were merely consistent. And, not surprisingly, almost none were actually price lows once we compared online.
Below, we've listed a selection of those items, as well as links to where you can find them at the best price available. (Note that the comparison prices below assume free shipping via Amazon Prime or free Walmart Site-to-Store shipping, as applicable.)
First Week Price*
Second Week Price
Lowest Price Available
The Girl Who Kicked
The Hunger Games
$15.96 at Amazon
Water for Elephants
A Visit From
A Dance With Dragons
$17.50 at Buy.com
When You Are
Too Big To Fail
Don't buy into the sale
The Borders store-closing discounts are even worse than we originally imagined; the February liquidation sales took 20% to 40% off, but on Saturday, most popular titles only received a meager 10% off -- which is laughably low when you consider that Borders offered a 30%-off coupon that applied to the list price of those same items just last week.
However, select titles that featured "stickered" discounts last week maintained that price for the store-closing sale. (Taking all those stickers off is probably really tedious.) Post continues after video, which initially aired last week.
But this is all moot, because even when comparing the first week prices with the lowest price available online today, every book was still cheaper elsewhere.
However, there was one lone item that improved in the second week: "Easy A" on Blu-ray disc. That's because all Blu-ray items received 40% off during liquidation. Upon seeing this, we noted additional Blu-ray titles on Saturday and price checked them this morning; three out of five were price lows at the Borders sale. So, if you're willing to take a chance, this is perhaps the only category where you'll score a deal.
But even though a low is a low, it should be noted that we listed a Borders coupon for 50% off Blu-ray disc movies last month -- once again undercutting the strength of this "one-time opportunity to find exceptional discounts" on bookstore goods.
Shop online instead
An interesting bit of secondary information that comes from this research: Nearly every book is available at the lowest price either at Amazon (if you have Amazon Prime or can pad your order over $25) or at Wal-Mart (with free Site-to-Store shipping). So instead of shopping the Borders store-closing sales, we recommend staying put and ordering online.
More on dealnews and MSN Money:
Countless calls and questions regarding when will the next percentage off start? How much longer are you going to be open? Bartering over a chair you sat in during your lunch break. Complaining that they can find it cheaper at Wal-Mart, even at 60% off. No they couldn't! I could tell such horror stories as my fellow employees stood in the midst of others greed. Hell they wanted to still have a job and keep their work family.
I am going through this once again! I transferred to one of the only stores within 25 miles of home. I will stay till the end to stand beside good people, employees and customers alike that wonder what's next. Be honest, B&N is 6 months away at most from closing stores. 200 were planned to close in Spring 2011, along with Borders. Then what?
Think about this. No book stores for your kids. The excitement of picking out their first Dr. Seuss book just isn't the same in front of a monitor. How about asking that Wal-Mart employee what's a good book regarding dealing with elderly parents and health care or which author wrote that book about the Gothic chick that helps some dude solve murders. Call Amazon customer service and ask if Hunger Games is suitable for a 8 year old or help you with your list of 15 books for your school's reading program. Not a pretty picture my friends.
So if you shop Borders liquidation sale, remember that salesperson is still trying to be helpful and courteous while watching their demise. Remember they don't work for Borders anymore, they have no control of whatsoever. They even lost their employee diiscount and if they can buy books, they are paying the same price as you and are not allowed to put any book aside for themselves. Know that the best way to express what is going on for them and many wonderful Borders customers is simply put into 2 words...this sucks!.
How was this allowed to be written without one mention of the liquidators being in charge of pricing? That wasn't considered relevant information, MSN Money partner? I guess it makes for a juicer story to paint it as evil Borders trying to screw customers.
Borders has nothing to do with anything anymore. Not prices, not the discounts, nothing.
Those of you who only care about the cheapest price probably weren't shopping at Borders anyway, so I (sort of) understand your feelings. However, I loved Borders and will miss them terribly. They had great coupons, and if you paid $20 per year for their upgraded membership, you got that money back thrice over (at least). Also, I loved being able to go in and browse the stacks. I found a lot of books that I enjoyed and might not have read otherwise that way.
If you don't see the value in a brick-and-mortar store and don't have the time or inclination to use the coupons, that's fine, but then don't complain when the economy sinks even lower and unemployment rises.
I've read through some of the comments posted. It amazes me how little some people know about business. So, in a nutshell:
1. Borders is NOT involved in setting current prices and discounts as they no longer "own" the inventory. A commercial firm of liquidators is in charge. After the liquidators take their percentage...the rest of the money goes in to the bankruptcy to pay attorney fees , any outstanding payroll and a small percentage may go to pay any outstanding debts.
2. It is standard practice when any company declares bankruptcy, liquidators handling the sale ONLY give discounts off MSRP. The MSRP is determined by the publisher or manufacturer...not the middleman. It was the same with Circuit City.
3. All liquidation sales start with the least percentage off so they can make the most money. Again, the inventory is in the hands of the liquidator. Going early during the liquidation won't get you any real deals. Liquidators rely on consumers to not know the basics of these type of sales. and consumers prove them right every time.
So, let's quit blaming Borders for these prices and discounts. They believe they will close their doors completely within 4-6 weeks. The discounts won't be worth it until right before they completely close their doors.
Moreover, this is standard practice for liquidation sales. They virtually always mark the prices up to MSRP (in this case, cover price), then discount from there. The rare exception seems to be their bargain books, which will be even more of a steal than normal. The 10 to 40 percent really means 10 percent on anything you want, and higher discounts on stuff they think they can't sell. Romance titles, if you're into that, are also at 40 percent off.
But to reiterate - this isn't Borders fault, and people should stop blaming them for the crappy prices. Then again, it's the poor reporting above that sets the stage, so shame on you too MSN.
The real kicker for people who think that way, is that the stock isn't just sitting there, and the liquidators haven't gone brain dead in business sense. Most Borders stores last week did 4-5 times more business in sales last weekend they did on a typical busy Christmas weekend.
Another poster mentioned air conditioning at a store, and it was obvious things weren't being attended to any more. This is another example of drawing conclusions without any accurate information. The store in question didn't have working a/c because Borders couldn't afford costly repairs on items like that in dozens of stores as time wound on in the potential sale to another company. They were trying to stay alive as long as possible, so spending $20,000 on a/c repairs was out of the question. If you go to the Timonium store now, however, you will find the a/c working perfectly now. Why? The liquidators actually spent the money to get it repaired. So it is because the store is going out of business that it was fixed. If Borders still ran things, it couldn't have afforded the repairs.
The name Borders exists now, but the liquidators own everything, and are making the decisions on prices, etc. The Borders employees are now employed by the liquidator. So you can't equate anything going on now with what Borders was doing last month.
As of Friday 7/22, Borders ceased to exist. All its inventory is the property of the liquidator, as is the fate of its thousands of employees who suffered through every change of ownership, every crazy change of direction, every new ill-conceived initiative to "turn it all around." The liquidator sets all prices, period. Yes, most of the big name books were cheaper a week earlier, that's because BORDERS SET THE PRICES. They are no longer doing so.
I don't expect the average Borders customer, who is busy complaining that the store doesn't carry enough "Obama is a secret Muslin" books, to notice the difference between the liquidator and The Artist Formerly Known as Borders. I DO expect someone hired to write a finance column to, since presumably they know what the f*ck they are talking about.
But I guess knowing what you're talking about comes second to cranking out another pay-by-the-word column when it gives you the chance to dump on a company already down. You should be proud of yourself, Ms. Sakralda!
This is pretty simple stuff. Buyer beware. You pay more than you think you should and you have only yourself to blame.
I for one was happy to pay a little more at Borders for the convenience, the injection of local jobs and revenue it brought to our town. I will miss it. Not everything about the electronic and online society we live in now is good in my opinion. It's not always about the bottom line dollar for me.
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