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Sears’ latest approach to staving off financial problems appears to be marking everything down. Way down, so the retailer claims.
On Nov. 1 Sears rolled out what it’s calling a Holiday Blowout, an aggressive pre-holiday-season promotion, claiming markdowns up to 50 percent storewide. (Kmart, which is owned by Sears Holdings, promises price reductions of up to 40 percent.) According to Sears, the promotion stands until Nov. 25, the day after Black Friday.
This sales splash comes a week after Sears and Whirlpool ended their century-long relationship.
For major appliances that can cost thousands—washing machines, refrigerators, dishwashers—a discount of 30 or 40 percent can mean a savings of hundreds of dollars.
"We saw a similar phenomenon last year," says Debra Mednick, CR's director of market analytics. "Sears marked its merchandise down in early November, and other retailers followed suit. Looking back at the prices, they were rock bottom during nearly the entire month. Now they're calling it 'Black November' in the industry."
So do you really need to wait for Black Friday?
• Sears: $1,699 (regular price listed at $2,800)
• Home Depot: $1,698 (regular price listed at $2,800)
• Lowe's: $1,699 (regular price listed at $2,800)
• Best Buy: $1,700 (regular price listed at $2,520)
• Amazon: $1,739 (no regular price listed)
This stainless steel, three-door French-door performed well in our tests (see all the models we've evaluated in our refrigerator ratings). Home Depot's price is $1 less than the current Sears sale price. Sears.com lists a regular price of $2,800, suggesting that the Holiday Blowout offers around a 40 percent discount.
But according to data from Gap Intelligence, a market research firm, the same model was sold on Sears.com during the week of October 22 for $2,519, so the actual markdown is 30 percent off last week's price.
• Sears: $1,500 (regular price listed at $2,500)
• Home Depot: $1,498 (regular price listed at $2,500)
• Lowe’s: $1,499 (regular price listed at $2,500)
• Best Buy: $1,500 (regular price listed at $2,200)
Again, when it came to this stainless steel Samsung gas range, a top performer in our range ratings, Home Depot scooted in just under Sears, and Lowe’s bested the Sears price by a buck, too. All of those retailers are offering a 40 percent discount off their regular price.
But when Gap Intelligence collected retail prices during the week of October 22, this Samsung range was available on Sears.com for $1,599. So, compared to one week ago, this range is now reduced in price by $100.
• Sears: $1,350 (regular price listed at $1,500)
• Home Depot: $1,350 (regular price listed at $1,500)
• Lowe’s: $1,350 (regular price listed at $1,500)
• Best Buy: $1,350 (currently listed at its regular price)
Here’s an example on the high end: A stainless steel dishwasher from GE’s Profile line that Sears has marked down 10 percent from its regular price. The model does well in our dishwasher ratings (many of the other dishwashers in our ratings are currently under recall).
And what about last week? This model was for sale on the e-commerce sites for Sears, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Best Buy for $1,349 to $1,359. Not much of a blowout there.
• Sears: $1,100 (regular price listed at $1,800)
• Home Depot: $1,099 (regular price listed at $1,800)
• Lowe’s: $1,099 (regular price listed at $1,800)
• Best Buy: $1,100 (regular price listed at $1,620)
This particular model is currently unavailable on Amazon. Among the other major e-commerce sites, Home Depot and Lowe’s both nipped Sears Holiday Blowout prices. (Noticing a pattern here?)
During the week of Oct. 22, Sears, Best Buy, and Lowe’s all priced this washing machine at $1,619, while Home Depot priced the model at $1,639.
High-Efficiency (HE) Top-Load Washer
• Sears: $750 (regular price listed at $1,100)
• Home Depot: $750 (regular price listed at $1,099)
• Lowe’s: $750 (regular price listed at $1,099)
• Best Buy: $750 (regular price listed at $990)
This 5.2-cubic-foot washer sits near the top of our washing machine ratings in the HE top-loader category. And it appears that for this lower-priced model, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Best Buy have matched the Sears sale price.
Looking back, the machine was listed at all the sites we’re analyzing here for between $989 and $999 during the week of October 22, according to Gap Intelligence data. The Sears Holiday Blowout shows a discount of just over 30 percent from Sears' regular price, or 25 percent off the prior week’s price.
Comparison Shopping for Major Appliances
The pricing information above represents a moment in time—for the rest of November, retailers are likely to experiment with different prices and promotions as peak shopping season approaches, Mednick says.
Ultimately, you should keep in mind that appliances like these are rarely sold at their "original" or "regular" price. If a retailer touts a 50 percent discount, the current price tag might, in fact, be half of the "regular" price—but not half of what you'll find at other stores and e-commerce sites.
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