The best way to shop Toys ‘R’ Us liquidation sales

Beloved toy retailer Toys ‘R’ Us is going out of business, and shoppers have set their sights on the massive deals to come from its liquidation sales.

Going-out-of-business sales for all 735 Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us stores, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year, started on Friday. Locations will close once all inventory, fixtures and equipment are sold. The inventory alone is worth more than $2 billion, the company said.

The good deals won’t come immediately

The deepest discounts will take weeks, or months. “By nature, liquidation sales don’t translate to awesome deals,” said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst at personal finance site First, the retailer will likely bring product prices up to manufacturer’s suggested retail price, and then apply a discount, and that means non-notable savings in the beginning, she said.

But go early if you want to snag popular toys

Discounts usually start around 13% and can go as high as 80%, Ramhold said. If you’re shopping for a particularly coveted item, like LEGO sets, Barbies or Star Wars merchandise, the earlier the visit to the store, the better. Those toys will go quickly, even if shoppers don’t see much of a sale, Ramhold said. Parents will rush to get their children those toys for even a few dollars off, and others might take this time to do a little early holiday shopping.

Toys are like commodities, said Brett Rose, chief executive office of wholesale distributor United National Consumer Suppliers. “When it’s hot, it’s hot,” he said. “Even if it’s smaller savings, any savings helps, especially when you have kids.” If it’s like Sports Authority when that retailer went out of business, deals will gradually increase, he said. But keep in mind, Toys ‘R’ Us locations may already be low on merchandise from not updating its inventory recently and because some vendors have already cut ties with the company, Ramhold said.

Check out the competition

Don’t forget about other retailers, like Walmart, Target, and Amazon because toy prices at Toys ‘R’ Us will be marked up before they’re discounted, other companies may start running deals on items around the same time. Before heading to the store (Toys ‘R’ Us’s website isn’t showing any sales yet), look on other retailers sites’ to compare prices, Ramhold said. “Without an initial markup, they could be cheaper at those stores rather than at Toys ‘R’ Us,” she said. “Considering other retailers will also likely allow returns for those items, it makes sense to shop elsewhere when you can.”

Other important information to know before shopping at Toys ‘R’ Us or Babies ‘R’ Us:

• Customers can no longer use coupons, nor can they continue to earn loyalty rewards. Rewards through the company’s Endless Earnings program will be honored through April 21.

• Customers can still use their Toys ‘R’ Us credit cards until the end of the liquidation sales, but no rewards or discounts through the card will be accepted

• Gift cards will be honored through April 21 (but not if the shoppers’ gift cards are from Canada and they want to use them in the U.S.)

• Any purchases made during closing sales cannot be returned.

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