We checked out a closeout sale in Norwalk, Connecticut earlier this week and found once we got past the signs screaming "30 percent off" there weren't a whole lot of bargains to be had. We did find some good deals, but far fewer than we had hoped.
As you've no doubt heard, Circuit City, the nation's second largest retailer, has gone belly up.
We were hoping to find loads of great deals. While some of Circuit City's stock such as cables and wiring and DVD movies at the store we visited were marked down 30 to 20 percent, big tag items were only cut by 10 percent. Still, in this economic climate even a 10 percent off sale is welcome.
To find out just how good the deals were at Circuit City we compared prices with four other big retailers - Best Buy, Amazon.com, Fry's Electronics, and J&R Electronics.
Circuit City Sale Reality Check
The verdict? Our inner-bargain hunter was crushed when many sale items sold at Circuit City were no bargain at all. We found cameras, HDTVs, printers and GPS systems priced 10 to 20 percent higher than the other major retailers. Let's take a look.
Circuit City has Canon's HV30 Camcorder going for $809.99, while we found the same model on sale at BestBuy.com for $791.99. A Canon Powershot G10 was being liquidated for $449.99, but it was almost 10 percent less on Amazon.com.
Cameras not your thing? Okay, how about a nice Sony 1080p 52" LCD TV? You can get it at Circuit City for $1979.99, but Best Buy can beat that by 30 bucks and Amazon blows them both out of the water by 20 percent at $1599.
GPS systems weren't doing much better with a Garmin Nüvi 850 portable GPS going for $629.99, but Amazon's got it beat by almost half with $399.99.
So, Were There Any Deals?
Yes. Some printers and iPods were worth braving the crowds for. You could get a Samsung clp 315 color laser printer for $179.10, beating out Best Buy, Amazon, Fry's and J&R who could only manage $189 between them.
But the best deals to be had were the iPods. An 8 GB iPod Touch was going for $206.99 at Circuit City, while Amazon had it at $214.95. The 32GB iPod Touch was a steal at $359.99, beating out both Fry's and J&R who could only get down around $369.
Shop Smart, Consider Returns, Service, Etc.
So if you're looking for smaller items, Circuit City might be the place for you. However, going out of business sales and liquidations are notorious for being promotions to draw people into a store-remember CompUSA? This seemed to be the case with the Circuit City store we visited.
If you do buy some digital gear at Circuit City this weekend check the price before you buy and make sure whatever it is you pick up works before you take it to the register. Sales staff reminded us that all sales were final and any problems with products purchased at the store would have to be addressed by the product manufacturer.
Not a big deal if you're buying an iPod, but if you've got your eyes on an HDTV you might want to be extra careful-postage for those things can really dent your wallet!
(Additional reporting by Tom Spring)