Sports Authority Store Closing Sales Are Finally Here, But Don't Bother Shopping Them

The sales have arrived, but they're still not worth your time and money.
Sports Authority closed

Unable to restructure after filing for bankruptcy in March, Sports Authority is now closing all 463 of its stores. That means the highly-anticipated going-out-of-business sales are finally here.

Liquidation sales tend to lead shoppers to believe they're scoring a great bargain on merchandise, but that's rarely the case. Shoppers shouldn't flock to these kinds of sales expecting to see major steals. As we've shown in the past, they rarely provide notable savings.

Update: While we continue to advise shoppers to avoid Sports Authority's in-store liquidation sales, our editors have noticed several well-priced deals online. (Golf clubs are among the highest discounts.) If you decide to shop the sale online, just be sure to price-check everything before buying.

No Returns, No Credit, No Thanks

The whole idea of a liquidation sales suggests that prices will be at their lowest point ever. Liquidation comes when businesses are floundering, or have already given up. Yet even when a business is sinking, its primary goal isn't to quickly clean out its inventory, but to make money. And businesses aren't going to make money by "practically giving away" their products.

SEE ALSO: Did You Fall for These 9 Shopping Myths?

These sales have all manner of drawbacks. There are typically no refunds or exchanges — meaning every sale is final, no matter what condition an item is in. There's also not likely to be any customer service or concerns with customer satisfaction. All employees are usually running registers, not assisting on the sales floor.

Plus, not all forms of payment are accepted. Depending on how far into the sale the store is, it's likely that gift cards and checks will not be allowed. The longer a sale goes on, the more probable it is that credit cards will also be excluded, meaning it's cash or nothing.

There are typically no refunds or exchanges — meaning every sale is final, no matter what condition an item is in.

Liquidation sales are also typically staged events, meaning the suffering company has hired another company to come in and handle pricing and advertising. These firms will even hire extra salespeople, but those extra hires just serve as warm bodies to run the registers.

Sometimes Prices Increase During Liquidation

In 2011, the bookstore company Borders announced it had filed for Chapter 11. We spotted sales right away, but they only boasted savings of 20% to 40% off initially. As the sales continued, the savings actually got worse.

Prices actually increased the longer the sales went on. We checked 25 items from different categories early on, before the liquidation began. After noting the prices, we checked back a mere week later, when Borders had begun its "everything must go" advertising campaign.

Of the 25 items we'd previously checked, 19 were cheaper before the supposed liquidation sale started. Borders had also previously offered a 30% off coupon that showed better savings than the liquidation prices. Most of the time, though, Amazon and Walmart still beat the bookstore's pricing overall.

Resist the Urge to Go All Out at Sports Authority

Sports Authority's liquidation sales are starting this week, but we have no reason to believe they'll be worthwhile, even now. If you've been waiting on the massive savings on Sports Authority merchandise to roll in, don't be fooled — do your research. You might think you're getting a can't-miss deal, but check first with the surviving competitors.

Amazon, Walmart, and even Dick's Sporting Goods could have a better price. Odds are you can find a better deal elsewhere, from a business that isn't trying to wring whatever money they can out of shoppers before shutting their doors forever.

Don't forget: The purpose of a liquidation sale is mainly to make money. If you refuse to be swayed from shopping the Sports Authority liquidation sales, remember that any notable discounts won't show up until the end of the sale, likely in August. And by then, the good stuff will probably have been picked over by shoppers less savvy than you.

What do you think, reader? Can you convince us liquidation sales are in fact a good value? Sound off in the comments below.

Julie Ramhold
Senior Staff Writer/Consumer Analyst

Julie's work has been featured on CNBC, GoBankingRates, Kiplinger, Marketwatch, Money, The New York Times, Real Simple, US News, WaPo, WSJ, Yahoo!, and more. She's extolled the virtues of DealNews in interviews with Cheddar TV, GMA, various podcasts, and affiliates across the United States, plus one in Canada.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


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Lindsay Sakraida (DealNews)
@deliboi281 Hahaha, thanks for the clarification! :)
Visiting the SA site I mean. I can waste all day on Dealnews!
Garbage. Just wasted 5 minutes of my day.
I just found some great deal for $100 JBL speaker at just $44! What a great deal! I pulled a trigger immediately!
I agree.
I don't see any noticeable discounts in SA.
I think, they have increased 30% price and giving 10% discount.
I checked tennis ball price today,
60 set, costco price 60 cents per ball while SA price 1.27 after 20% discount.

ha ha
Its funny na
Marked up to mark down. Went to a store. Picked over, No deals and No Returns. The buyer should beware on this one.
Fresh n easy WOOB? Thought mine just had a sucky location. Never shopped there though lol.
@Lindsay Sakraida (DealNews) it means "Going Out Of Business". Don't worry, it took me 5 minutes of sounding like an idiot to figure it out.
So true. When Fresh & Easy went out of business a few years ago, the store ran big ads suggesting prices had been drastically cut. I was drawn in, but nothing was really cheaper than before.
I needed to return a pair of shoes I got from them about a month ago. Wonder how easy that will be now.
totally agreed. been checking SA since they first announced the closing. everything is way overpriced even with so called closing sale discount. no wonder they ran out of the business.
The prices at the local k marts skyrocketed when the liquidators came in after they announced they were going out of business. The liquidators raised all of the prices up to the "MSRP" and then backed them down 20%. The problem was that MSRP minus 20% was still 20% above what everyone else was charging. That didn't stop people from loading up their carts. SMH...

I got a few deals from Sports Authority in the last couple of months but I don't see those prices anymore except for one. Their price on The North Face Surgent pants that I bought are still a pretty good deal even though the "real" 20% off sale they were running that I took advantage of is gone.
Lindsay Sakraida (DealNews)
@Rich_P I have never seen the acronym "GOOB" before...
20-25 years ago GOOB sales yielded good deals. That's definitely not the case now with the growth (and competition) of online plus the takeover of GOOB by third party companies.
Agreed. Also, you need to visit the store to check prices. They won't answer questions on the phone and the store's website blocks any of that location's inventory information.
I also dislike the "up to x% off" drive by signs. A recent Toys R Us store closing advertised "up to 40% off" when very few departments had more than a 20% discount (and some even less). Hardly a bargain, but yet there inventory was already significantly reduced.
Agreed. I've learn to really ignore all "closing sales". The savings don't justify the time/inconvenience unless you need that item right now. 25 -30% off retail just don't cut it.
I got in on the sports chalet liquidation. I bought a snorkel set w/fins msrp 69.99. Got it for 44.
After having hit up sports authority first then big5. In which I bought snorkel sets of the same price from each store. Lol. Returned them after I went to sports chalet last. One day before my flight.
Very good article, very valid points. I recall getting a sub-woofer at Circuit City when they were closing their stores, thinking I had found a real bargain until I got home and compared what I had paid to prices at other stores. I didn't overpay, but I certainly didn't get a deal. It's easy to get caught up in all the hype.