Why the big discounts?

Being a book loving family, we get the weekly Borders’ discount vouchers sent to us, and from time to time we even go and use them. This week’s discount was a goody – 30% off one full-priced children’s book, one voucher per customer. So I promised the strangelings a Saturday morning trip to Borders, where they could spend their pocket money on a book each. They get 1/2 their age in pocket money, so the Misses Eight get $4 each, and Ms Eleven gets $5.50, totted up in a running total in a notebook. They have sizable balances at present, so it seems like a good idea to spend some of it on books, especially when such a big discount is offered.

When we got there, we found an even bigger discount on offer. It was a time based discount offered in store – 15% off one full priced book, or 25% off two, or 35% off three or more full priced books, on books purchased between 12pm and 3pm that day. We got six.

The sales clerk told me that she didn’t know anything about the discount until this morning, when the signs went up in the shop. It wasn’t a one-off; the same discount had been offered yesterday.

So why is Borders trying to get people to buy more books, right now. It’s not stocktake season, ‘though perhaps they are still trying to move stock they purchased for Christmas. If so, that might indicate that they are having some cashflow difficulties, trying to pay for Christmas stock without having enough cash coming in from customers, in which case watch for more discounts coming up. Or maybe they are trying to convert the large numbers of bookstore browsers into book buyers, again, as a way of getting more cash.

Are Borders stores elsewhere in Australia and New Zealand offering the same sort of discounts? And does this show some kind of trouble?


6 responses to “Why the big discounts?

  1. They do that all the time, they always have. Sometimes even better than those. It’s nothing new though.

  2. “loss leaders”. common tactic at most big retailers. they move stock cheaply, which is better than remaindering the whole lot.

    bet you bought some stuff at full price too, or at very least thought, “we have to come back”.

  3. Borders, at least in its Lambton Quay incarnation, seems to emphasis quantity rather than quality to me, so maybe Che is right. Last time we were there – around a month ago – there were generous offers abounding of the buy two, get a third one free variety.
    myself, I’d rather pop round the corner to Unity.

  4. If I recall correctly, at least the U.S. part of Borders is in deep trouble. Several years of bad decisions are catching up with them, and they’ve gotten to the ‘suppliers won’t deliver any more until they pay their overdue bills’ stage.

  5. Well, the “US part of Borders” has been not so quietly flicking off it’s off-shore holdings for several years now.

    Even if the margins are practically non-existent, it’s better to be moving deep discounted stock than having it act as extremely expensive dust bunny traps.

  6. My current strategy is:

    – browse for books at Unity and Parsons and secondhand bookshops. Sometimes you want to buy a book you weren’t looking for. I don’t like browsing at Borders — too much dross.
    – enquire at Unity for specific books.
    – buy hardcover Terry Pratchett books at Borders, where they are always deeply discounted.
    – buy other books online at the Book Depository or Amazon.

    And of course there’s always the public library…