How to Get Rid of Retail Overstock

Most retail stores rotate their stock frequently. They must clear out old stock to make room for the new but in some cases they’re faced with too much older stock left over. To deal with overstock issues, some retail stores take the questionable action of mutilating (making it unacceptable for use) and simply throwing the goods in the garbage. But there are more productive and useful ways to get rid of retail overstock.

Call your distributors first and foremost, to see if you are eligible for a return of the overstock goods. Though it is rare after a certain time, in some cases the distributor may have another buyer waiting to buy those exact items. Ask the distributor to check his backorder list.

Discount the items and sell them on clearance to attempt to get rid of them. Charge the amount you paid for the items and if they still don’t move, keep discounting them further to attempt to get some of your costs back. As the owner of Boscov Department Stores, Albert Boscov, confirms, "We just mark it down and mark it down and somebody is going to buy it."

Separate and sort the leftover overstock items if you can’t return them to a distributor or sell them on clearance. Put them in neat categories so that you can route them efficiently to a new home.

Incorporate the overstock into a store contest or free giveaway. Not only will you free up the stock, you may also gain some new customers due to the contest promotion.

Call your local registered charities to see if they have a need for the items you sell. For instance, some charities have wardrobe programs to help homeless or disadvantaged individuals dress for interviews. If you sell food, contact a food bank or soup kitchen in the area to offer the leftover goods.

Offer the stock to dollar stores and lesser-known discount retail stores. Charge a nominal fee; or if you’re mostly concerned with freeing up space on your retail floor and warehouse, just give them away.


  • Remove labels and identifying tags from the items if you’re concerned about your store’s name and reputation or other potential issues when giving them away. Make every effort to make the stock look like generic, no-frills products.

    Consult your tax preparer for details on how to write off and deduct your losses, or to deduct charitable giving, on your business taxes.