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Retail in Reverse: Shoppers with tight budgets turning to liquidation stores

Shoppers are hoping to score big deals on surplus inventory that retailers like Target, Amazon, Walmart and Kohl's couldn't sell
Posted at 7:30 AM, Jan 11, 2023

MILWAUKEE, Wis. — You might have noticed new liquidation stores popping up in the Milwaukee area. It appears to be an emerging trend as people are navigating inflation and shopping with tighter budgets.

Nu Nu's Hot Bargains has opened two locations within the past year — and the owner says the venture has been so successful, he's considering opening a third location.

It's not uncommon to see more than 100 people lined up waiting for the doors at Nu Nu's to open. Shoppers are hoping to score big deals on surplus inventory that retailers like Target, Amazon, Walmart and Kohl's couldn't sell.

Inflation has many people buying less and focusing instead on staples like groceries. That has an impact on the supply and demand cycle and it impacts what ends up in liquidation or discount stores like Nu Nu's. As people cut back on discretionary spending retailers are left with more than they need. What they can't sell or aren't willing to deeply discount gets handed off to warehouses. And there are returned items mixed in too. From there, the merchandise is sold (at a reduced price) often by the truckload. Retailers get to clear their shelves and you can score some great deals.

Shoppers we met at Nu Nu's say it's a nice break from soaring inflation. "I mean, some of the stores — the prices are really jumping nowadays," said Sandra Migacz. "So this has really given me the opportunity to get some things that I haven't been able to get in the past." Sandra says she enjoys it so much — she doesn't think she'll ever shop traditional retail again. She frequently finds deep discounts on gifts for her grandchildren and also purchases items to donate to homeless shelters or charities.

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