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Christmas Tree Shops are having a liquidation sale, but are items really on sale?

May 18, 2023

Food storage containers were previously being sold at Christmas Tree Shops for $5.99. But during the store’s liquidation sale, the price starts at $9.99.

It’s on sale but for 10% off, the final price is still higher than before.

MassLive found some items in the Somerville store with new price stickers covering up the previous ones. Although it wasn’t for all items, the original sticker could sometimes be seen behind the new ones. Other times, they can be ripped off or weren’t covering up the original sticker in the first place.

Christmas Tree Shops, a 53-year-old chain founded on Cape Cod, is liquidating and closing all 70 of its remaining stores, according to documents filed in a federal bankruptcy court.

The pending liquidation was first reported in The Wall Street Journal. The Middleboro-based Christmas Tree Shops filed for bankruptcy in May and had hoped to emerge after shedding some of its stores.

But its lawyers told the bankruptcy court Thursday that it was unable to buy inventory and replenish its shelves, leading to lost sales and its current liquidation sale.

The liquidation event is being managed by Hilco Merchant Resources. In a press release, the company advertised “its Christmas savings in July.”

“In addition to holiday items and décor, these stores offer a huge selection of home décor, furniture, gifts and so much more, including popular brands, now at even lower prices,” the press release states.

Hilco Merchant Resources did not respond to MassLive’s request for comment.

One TikTok user known as “novie333″ posted about the price changes after she went to a store in Lynnfield. The video has more than 1 million views as of Wednesday afternoon.

“One single oven mitt, $14.99. Let’s pull it back,” she said in the video. The sticker under it shows $5.99.

“Shame on you, Christmas Tree Shop. Shame on you, marking things up like that and then taking only 10% off,” she said.

Multiple TikTok users commented they are seeing the same things in stores across the U.S.

“yes! went to one down the cape and not only was everything marked up but the sale was up to 50% off and there was nothing but 10% off,” one social media user wrote.

TikTok user known as “tiatripodi” didn’t realize the change until after she saw another TikTok video. She made a video of her seeing if it happened to a recent bed sheet she purchased.

It did.

She paid about $26. However, the first price tag was only for $16.99.

“That’s terrible,” she said. “Be wary when you go shopping there right now.”

But according to the Washington Post, the price changes are legal.

Once inventory is sold to a liquidator, they can base discounts on the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, which, the newspaper explains, can be higher than what the store first charged.

“Look for new price stickers over old price tags or bar codes,” the Post wrote. “If you see lots of items with new stickers, odds are you are dealing with merchandise that has been marked up before sale.”

However, in 2002, Massachusetts attorney general’s office cracked down on at least one deceptive price sale. The office claimed Dean’s Home Furniture and Planned Furniture Promotions, a Connecticut-based professional liquidator, deceived customers into thinking furniture was being discounted and part of the regular store inventory, according to the Boston Business Journal.

During a “going out of business sale,” the store reportedly sold furniture with fake “original” prices and “markdown” prices on more than $800,000 worth of new merchandise at the sale, the attorney general’s office told the news outlet. State law does not allow new stock during a business closing sale, the news outlet reported.

Dean’s Home Furniture and Planned Furniture Promotions, a Connecticut-based professional liquidator, were required to pay $270,000 to settle claims, according to the Boston Business Journal.

Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Campbell’s office did not offer a clarification on the legality of such sales before this story was published.

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