25 Clearance outlets that could save you big money this Christmas, as we all struggle with the cost of living crisis.
Christmas is on the way, and many of us are making a head start on buying our holiday gifts for family members and friends while at the same juggling with inflation, increased mortgages and rent costs and struggling with bills that are only going up, not down, so looking for the best pricing possible, shoppers are actively looking at clearance outlets, to help keep their Christmas shopping as low as possible, by purchasing products at discounted prices and getting the best deals from some of the biggest brands out there!
I've used clearance outlets to save money, and recently made a purchase from a well-known retailer's clearance centre, which saved me 45% off the cost of the same product that I could still find in the retailer's stores, purely because the item's packaging wasn't in the best condition, (I don't care about packaging, I threw it away within 5 minutes of the order arriving!), which was a big saving for me and is a way for others to save some cash on Christmas gifting.
So why would the brands reduce the price of their products and offer deep discounts? Well, the majority of their bargain-buy products are going to be clearance items, so end-of-line products that the companies want to get out of their warehouses, generally because they have newer models coming in or the products haven't been as popular as they would have liked and so want to clear them through, or it could be they have overstocked a product. This means you can grab some great deals on a range of different products, whether big-ticket items or cheaper products; companies need to clear excess stock and will sell off these select items at a clearance price which could save you a lot of money.
Overstocks can be pretty common, and great examples of this can be clothing retailers who have stocked a particular range and found that they aren't as popular as they expected. Perhaps they bought loads of Summer clothes, such as t-shirts, shorts and swimwear, then find it's the coldest summer on record, and they haven't sold anything like the number of summery ranges they had hoped for, meaning they need to clear them asap!
Many clothing retailers were forced to close during the first lockdown for many weeks. Once they were able to re-open, they had racks of clothes that were no longer needed as the seasons had changed, and so it was discounts galore, so they cleared them through, and the clearance outlets were one of the ways they did this.
You may find that the clearance outlets are offering excess stock, but equally, often, the stores will have customer returns that aren't faulty or badly damaged but can't be sold as pristine, so these will be offered at lower prices, off-retail prices, to clear them through.
You might also find ex-demonstration or ex-display products that, again, aren't classed as pristine because they may have minor scratches, scrapes or blemishes, which means the retailer needs to reduce them to clear.
You might also come across re-conditioned or refurbished products for sale. These are normally products that have been returned to the retailer due to a fault but have been found to be not faulty and so have been cleaned up and offered for sale.
I used to work for Curry's, the electrical retailer. We were constantly having products returned due to a 'fault', which were then sent back to the retailer's returns division but were found not to be faulty at all; they just weren't being used correctly, so they couldn't be sent back to the manufacturer for credit, and so were sent back to the stores to be sold.
Vacuum cleaners were a popular return; the number of people, who returned a vacuum cleaner after a couple of months because it was no longer sucking up very well, was very large, especially the more prominent brands such as Dyson when they first came out, and the problem was that the customer had no idea that the cleaners had filters installed, that needed to be cleaned out every few weeks; otherwise, they would clog up, and the suction would decrease, and so I spent many a day cleaning out filters for a customer and refusing a return/refund as they just needed a clean!
The refurbished term may also mean that the product has come back with no packaging or may have been supplied with no packaging and has been re-packaged by the retailer in non-original packaging to sell the products and again were discounted down for that reason.
Equally, some products are items that did have a fault but were minor and so have been repaired and are sold, often with a shorter guarantee than a brand new product, but at a discounted rate.
Now not everything is going to be suitable for Christmas gifting; you might not buy a refurbished vacuum cleaner as a gift, or perhaps you would; if it works and is useful, then it's still a great gift, but products such as toys, games, clothing and gaming products are perfect, yes maybe it has a damaged box, but what's to stop you removing the product from the box and wrapping it up without a box, the recipient won't care, they have a fab pressie, and you can enjoy watching them make use of their gift, with the knowledge you spent less than you might have done buying elsewhere!
So where can I find clearance outlets?
There are so many major retailers offering branded clearance products, and trying to list them all would mean this post was going to be around a million pages long, and you never really know how genuine a product is when buying from a retailer specialising in clearance products, so I had a look at what the big brands were offering through their own dedicated clearance outlets and came up with a 'Top 25' list of brands which have genuine savings, on their products.
Some retailers have their own online stores specially set up to clear through their excess products. Still, many have gone down the eBay selling route, allowing them to sell off their clearance products without the considerable costs of having to set up their own e-commerce solution, plus the benefit that the number of potential customers scrawling through eBay is massively higher than the number of website visitors they could ever hope to achieve visiting their own stores, especially when most visitors to eBay are there looking for a bargain, and so are on the lookout for a good deal anyway!
The Top 25..
Here are my Top 25 retailers for grabbing a deal. There are, of course, many more, but these are well-known brands, all offering savings of up to 80%, making them well worth a browse when looking for a bargain! These deals sites run all year round; they aren't just Black Friday deals (although you will find some great Black Friday sales offers), or after-Christmas clearance sales, selling off discounted home goods, leftover Christmas items such as Christmas decorations, gift sets, beauty items, wrapping paper etc, these are year-round deal sites offering hot deals!
eBay Refurbished - Various brands that have been refurbished or have slight imperfections, which may simply be damaged packaging
Amazon Warehouse Deals - Amazon customer returns refurbished products, products with imperfections such as damaged packaging or products without packaging, exclusively for Prime members.
So how do I know if a deal is really a deal?
First things first, a deal is only a deal if it represents a saving to you! If you are buying something because it looks like a great deal and not because it is something you actually intended to buy, then it's an expense and a great way to decrease your net worth and potentially increase your debt, so it's important to make sure that those great deals represent a saving. Adding to your credit cards isn't a great idea, so you want to make sure that these good deals are the best deals, so make sure you use a site such as Google Shopping to search for that product, as that will show you which online retailers are selling that product and their online prices, and you can filter the list from cheapest to most expensive, and this will include any delivery charges as well, so you can see if the deal your looking at is actually the best for your money. There also nothing to say that offline retailers such as a local store, department stores and independent retailers don't have this same product or similar at competitive pricing as well, but one of the main reasons online shopping is as popular as it is, is simply because you don't need to leave your sofa to be able to get your shopping taken care of and holiday shoppers like this, I know I do, and combing these deals with coupon codes that flood social media at Christmas, which is the prime time for retailers to do everything they can to get your money in their till, you can frankly grab an absolute bargain!
Do I still have the same legal rights as something purchased brand new if I buy something clearance?
Here is what Citizens Advice say:
It doesn't matter whether you bought the item new or secondhand - you'll still have rights, no matter if you bought a product at a best buy price or at its regular price.
You’ll have legal rights if the item you bought is:
broken or damaged (not of satisfactory quality)
unusable (‘not fit for purpose')
not what was advertised or didn’t match the seller’s description
You won’t have any legal rights if either:
it was damaged by wear and tear, an accident or misuse
you knew about the fault before you bought the item
You don’t have an automatic right to get your money back if you just change your mind about something you’ve bought, and there’s nothing wrong with it.
No matter how expensive the item was - it’s really down to the seller whether they offer you anything.
You can take certain steps depending on where you bought the item.
If you think there’s a problem with the item, you might have different rights.
You automatically get a 14-day ‘cooling-off period’ when you buy something you haven’t seen in person - unless it’s bespoke or made to measure.
The cooling-off period starts the day after you receive your order, and there doesn’t need to be anything wrong with the item for you to get a refund.
You won’t get a cooling-off period when you buy:
something that deteriorates quickly - like flowers or food
an item that was personalised or custom-made for you
anything from a private individual rather than a business
a CD, DVD or software, if you break the seal on the wrapping
If you paid for standard delivery when you bought something, the seller has to refund this if you return it. If you chose a more expensive delivery option, you'd have to pay the difference.
Use your cooling-off period
You need to tell the seller you don’t want the item within 14 days of receiving it. Once you’ve told the seller, you’ve got another 14 days to actually send the item back.
You could also phone - but make sure you note who you speak to and what was agreed. It’s a good idea to follow up with a letter or email.
Sellers must give you certain information when you buy something without seeing it in person. This includes their business address and phone number and details of your right to cancel. If you didn’t get this in writing (they’re allowed to send it by email), then your cooling-off period increases even further to a year and 14 days.
Most sellers give instructions on how to return items and often include returns labels with your order. After telling the seller, you usually have 14 days to return the item - check your terms and conditions for how long you have.
You may have to pay the cost of posting something back to the seller. The seller should have told you who had to pay for this when you bought the item. For example, it could have been in the terms and conditions. If they didn’t tell you, they would have to refund your postage costs.
You don't have to return the item in its original packaging, but you do need to make sure it’s packaged in a way that means it doesn’t get damaged. Sellers can ask you to pay if something gets damaged because it wasn’t packaged properly. The seller can also ask you to pay (or reduce your refund) if you’ve reduced the item's value, e.g. if you wore shoes outside and scuffed the soles - but they can only do this if it’s in the terms and conditions. (Often, it's precisely this policy that is the reason why retailers have clearance to sell to start with!)
If your contract says you must use the original packaging, this is likely to be considered an ‘unfair contract term’. You can tell the seller this and see if they agree to accept the return without the original packaging. If you purchased a clearance item with no pristine packaging, this is unlikely to cause you any problems, as it wasn't supplied with pristine packaging to start with!
If you have issues, especially with eBay purchases, you can speak to eBay for extra assistance, and they do tend to be very much on the customer's side in most cases! Legal information correct as of 1st October 2023