Is Christmas Tree Shops marking up to mark down?

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The home goods retailer caught flak this week after several social media users accused the chain of marking up prices ahead of its closing sale.

The Christmas Tree Shops on Old Oak Street in Pembroke. John Tlumacki / The Boston Globe Staff, File

Christmas Tree Shops caught the wrath of thrifty shoppers this week after several social media users accused the chain of marking up prices ahead of its going-out-of-business sale. 

After filing for bankruptcy in May, the Middleborough-based chain is in the process of liquidating its remaining stores. Christmas Tree Shops is offering discounts of up to 50% off as part of its sale.

In one video posted this week, TikTok user @novie0915 said she was shopping with a friend at the Christmas Tree Shops in Lynnfield when she noticed that some prices appeared to be inflated, the higher price tags slapped on over lower ones. 

“Shame on you, Christmas Tree Shops,” she said, peeling back price stickers to show the discrepancies. 

@novie0915 #fyp #christmastreeshop #lynnfield #ripoff #shameonyou ♬ original sound – novie333💙🇺🇸❤️

A handful of other TikTok and Reddit users shared similar observations, documenting pricing differences that ranged from a couple of dollars to $20 or more — an inconsistency one Reddit user called “gross and predatory.” 

In a follow-up video, @novie0915 acknowledged some commenters who suggested that a third-party company or consultant could be to blame for the pricing differences, rather than Christmas Tree Shops itself. 

“I don’t care if it’s a liquidation company. I don’t care if it’s the frickin’ Pope. I don’t care if it’s the good lord himself doing it,” she said. “It’s wrong. It’s not ethical — it’s deceitful. You’re luring people in there for a sale, and then the price is jacked up 50%, if not more. It’s just wrong.”

@uluvkurly Christmas tree shop going out of business be aware of the prices! Store is an extra 10% off with price increases (gouging) Definitely not worth it. #GoingOutOfBusiness #PriceGougingLikeisHorrible ♬ original sound – kurly_red

But the company managing the Christmas Tree Shops liquidation, Hilco Merchant Resources, indicated that there’s more to the story.

Rita Spaccapaniccia, the company’s vice president of marketing and advertising, told that it’s not Hilco’s practice to tell a retailer to increase prices before a going-out-of-business sale.

In this case, she explained, a limited number of products were marked down in price for a promotion or sale sometime before the “going out of business” sale; the higher amounts reflect the products’ regular prices. 

Christmas Tree Shops hasn’t announced a closing date. In the meantime, however, those with leftover gift cards have just one week left to spend them; the company has said it will stop honoring gift cards on July 21.

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