Why The "Final Sale" Retail Strategy Isn't Really Working

Photo: Bloomberg/Getty Images.
Feel like you've been seeing more "final sale" signage than usual in your favorite stores? Retailers have been using that "buy it now or it might be gone forever" approach to moving merch off shelves and out the door a lot recently, according to The Wall Street Journal. But it doesn't seem to be all that effective.

For starters, being unable to return these deeply-discounted items can seriously piss people off. That's the beauty (and the wallet-depleting curse) of a sample sale, sure, but the thrill of the hunt isn't the same when you're browsing the racks of a mall-staple chain store. And the frustration of being stuck with a non-returnable dud purchase stings even more when you realize how easy online returns tend to be.

Plus, the scarcity element — and its ability to sway a shopper towards making a purchase — isn't really there. "The threat of final sale has really lost its power," Wendy Liebmann, WSL Strategic Retail's chief executive, told WSJ.

The solution? Retailers could stop having sales and instead get customers used to paying full price. But going from perpetual discounts to firmly full-price seems like the kind of move that wouldn't sit well with customers.

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