Circuit City's Liquidation: Deal or No Deal?

For anybody who thought Circuit City's liquidation sale wouldn't be good, think again. Over the weekend I went into one of the bankrupt company's stores to compare their sale prices with Best Buy's prices. My conclusion: Circuit City has some good deals compared to its rival and some online sites. The bad news is, you may be driving to several Circuit City stores to find the best brands and models because much of the good stuff has already been picked over. At least that was the case at a packed Circuit City store in Falls Church.

But if you're not that particular about brands and models and you just want a good deal on a television or a camera, Circuit City may be a good choice while it stays open. Before the company announced it would liquidate its inventory, many of its prices matched Best Buy. But Circuit City is now trying to unload its stuff with 10 to 60 percent discounts.

For example, a 50-inch Panasonic plasma TV was $1,499.99 at Circuit City, a $500 discount from its previous price and Best Buy's current price on the same model. A 46-inch Samsung LCD TV was on sale at Circuit City for $1,279.99, lower than Best Buy's price of $1,499.99. A 40-inch Sony LCD was $1,039.99 at Circuit City, also lower than Best Buy's price of $1,299.99. The same 52-inch Sony LCD TV model at both stores was $200 cheaper at Circuit City. I saw similar price differences on cameras and computer printers.

But buyer beware: You can't return or exchange any of your purchases. And shop around before you plunk down your money at Circuit City. Most of its liquidation prices were competitive but a few were cheaper elsewhere. Best Buy had an 8-megapixel Olympus camera for a few dollars less than Circuit City's sale price of $143.99.

Have you shopped Circuit City's liquidation sale? What did you buy? What good deals did you see?

By Tania Anderson |  February 3, 2009; 12:00 AM ET General Interest , Sales
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The only "deals" I found were the % off CD's. I have found computers and other things cheaper at Costco and BJ's. My own analysis is the liquidation company has jacked up prices on many items while dropping the prices on a few big ticket items. It isn't so much a liquidation as a rip-off.

Posted by: jreid2 | February 3, 2009 8:47 AM

You may be able to get the Circuit City price at Best Buy. I brought a Circuit City ad from the Sunday paper to the Best Buy across the street from Circuit City. I wanted a specific digital camera, that was $30 cheaper at CC. The salesman at Best Buy told me that they're not supposed to price-match CC, since they're out of business, but since I could have walked to their store, he matched it anyway. So I got the lower price, and a store that will still be there if I have problems.

Posted by: JHBVA | February 3, 2009 9:04 AM

I went to the Circuit City and was charged more than the the shelf tag minus the displayed discount. The manager yelled at the clerk fixing this situation for me telling him that the register price is right no matter what. No more fixing overcharges. BUYER BEWARE!!!!

Posted by: vduny | February 3, 2009 9:04 AM

I needed a wireless router so I decided to check out circuit city first, as it was the first day of the liquidation sale. It was crowded, the line was long, but the price I got was worth it. The same router would have been $60 elsewhere (I researched when I got home), but was marked down to $35.99. It rang up at the register for $30.99. It works perfectly and I'm not at all bothered by the fact that I couldn't return it. I might pop back by in the next couple of weeks to scope out any deals left.

Posted by: ahalt4nr | February 3, 2009 9:59 AM

If the only criteria is beating best buy then the prices on TVs are fine. But for anyone who buys online or shops around at all, then they are marginal deals at best. For example the 50" Panasonic Plasma can be had at for $1428, and for $1450 -- both supremely reputable businesses.

Posted by: mb129 | February 3, 2009 10:11 AM

is there someplace we can see which circuit city stores are still open? we drove to the one nearest to us (beltsville/laurel) and it was closed and empty.

Posted by: kms2 | February 3, 2009 10:42 AM

It appears that they've finally cut prices to a level where you actually getting a discount, but like you said the good stuff is likely gone.

I'm guessing Newegg, Amazon, OneCall, etc all still have better or competitive pricing.

Posted by: Corn_Laden | February 3, 2009 11:22 AM and MicroCenter have better prices right now.

I learned my lesson last year with CompUSA. Don't darken Circuit City's door.

Posted by: bs2004 | February 3, 2009 11:40 AM

If you see a good deal on something like a router which either works or doesn't, but the cost is not too high, I would buy it. The same with consumables like ink and toner, but there is a lot of risk with electronics like plasma and LCD TVs since poor handling can lead to damage that is not visible. Why take the risk, especially when there is no shortage of online sites with free delivery and no sales tax.

Posted by: skipper7 | February 3, 2009 12:10 PM

I bought a laptop at Circuit City 3 months ago - they are selling it now for $75 more with their "sale price" thyan I paid.

I won't be going back.

Posted by: jgd4406 | February 3, 2009 12:34 PM

I went on the first day, without prior research. I wrote down the prices of many of the things I was interested in. When I got home, I looked it up elsewhere and some were a little cheaper and some were a little more expensive. I only compared with Best Buy and Walmart though. I'm sure you could definitely get them cheaper at online sellers, but I'm told that these places often sell products that were returned to places like Best Buy or Circuit City. They still might be fine, but you never know.

Posted by: dragnchic9 | February 3, 2009 2:18 PM

Judging from the comments, it is now clear why CC is going out of business. F them! I'll shop at my leisure. This is like black friday - I don't feel like getting trampled, one way or another.

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | February 3, 2009 2:26 PM

That's illegal. In California, it breaches 12024.1 of the Business & Professional code. I'd say if it's a big item, buy with a CC and dispute any overcharge with your CC bank.

Posted by: MrElvey | February 3, 2009 3:50 PM

HI! I bought a Canon digital camera before Christmas at Circuit City and I asked (at that time) what happens with the additional warranty if Circuit City does go under. I was told that that had been taken into consideration and that there was a company ready to take over their warranties. I haven't heard anything, of course, since it really is going under, so I'm wondering where I need to find out about the warranty info.

Posted by: roseinalexandria | February 3, 2009 5:05 PM

Even if Circuit Citys' prices are comparable to Best Buy, i still think they are way too high. I mean, how come i go into Best Buy and have to pay $50 for an HDMI cable, but can then buy the SAME one on Amazon for $15. I've given up even trying to buy electronics at the store, and only shop for them online now. I've found some good online deals on using this web site:

It's a free service that tracks prices of products from online stores (like amazon) and sends you an email when the price drops.

Posted by: chris250480 | February 3, 2009 5:19 PM

I found a Linksys wireless N gigabit router for $103. I had to wait for the second wave of discounts - the first wave was still more expensive than Best Buy - but it is a pretty good deal off list ($139). I'm happy.

Posted by: bpickerall | February 3, 2009 5:22 PM

I was totally underwhelmed by the games and movies selection. I went on the first day or two of the sale and it looked like all the top shelf games and movies had already been cleared out, probably taken back to the distributor. The remaining games and movies had a nice discount, but not really better than the pre-Christmas sales. I doubt I'll bother going back.

If I were in the market for a high-end item like a TV or Bluray player it would probably be more interesting. But then I like the fact that I have a two year warranty on my TV from Costco.

Posted by: fletc3her | February 3, 2009 5:26 PM

It is very typical of liquidators to raise prices 50%, then offer a paltry 10% off. Liquidators are all about the profit, not giving consumers a deal.

The only thing I found worthy of purchasing at Circuit City was some CD's and DVD's. Everything else is still over priced.

Posted by: skramsv | February 3, 2009 5:32 PM

We have a Circuit City very close to us, and have been in three times since they went into liquidation.

The CDs were worth it, but I would guess they've been picked over by now.

We also bought a nice metal, wood, and glass low profile TV stand for over 30% off as soon as their furniture went down to that price point. We did our research, and $230 was worth it for the TV stand.

My husband LOVES techno-geek shopping so I suspect we'll be going back again this weekend.

Posted by: earlysun | February 3, 2009 6:05 PM

I went to CC, the one along Columbia Pike yesterday. Walking & browsing around the store to see if is there any good deal to buy.
I'm interesting to get a TV. Sony LCD is my choice. I looked around and found that they want to sale KDL40V4100 at the price around $1,200+ and still +TAX. I was surprised!!! The day before I went to CC, I went to buy a KDL42V4100 from Bestbuy at $999 + $50 tax.

HELLO Knock Knock !!! 40" is not bigger than 42", alright. Do you know how to count? OR Is 'liquidation' mean "let's ripped them off" in Hebrew or some other languages?
You are out of business for christ sake.

Posted by: SVF0183 | February 3, 2009 11:13 PM

If you had compared prices with Costco or online you would have found what most consumers have already discovered, Circuit City and Best Buy are among the worst places to buy electronics. Costco carries a 50 inch plasma Panasonic for $900 (and you get 2 years warranty). Price gouging is why Circuit City went out of business and they are still doing it. Your correspondent should have done her homework.

Posted by: iansmccarthy | February 5, 2009 3:48 AM

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