When I first posted about Harbor Freight’s new pro-grade Icon tool boxes, I wrote about the sticker shock.
Harbor Freight teased about their Icon tool boxes prior to their launch, estimating their 56″ x 25″ x 45″ tool cabinet as being priced at $2499. When it launched, the price was $4000, and Harbor Freight compared it to Snap-on’s $6945 cabinet.
Harbor Freight has had a couple of 20% Icon tool storage coupons, dropping the price of that 56″ base cabinet to $3200.
Harbor Freight sent out an email newsletter a couple of days ago, announcing their best-ever prices on Icon tool storage. They weren’t kidding.
The 56″ base cabinet has seen a whopping $1200 discount, and that’s BEFORE the new 20% coupon drops the price further, to $2240.
In other words, the Harbor Freight Icon 56″ tool box cabinet is now 44% off. You save nearly $1800 on a previously $4000 tool box, which is just crazy.
Their 36″ Icon tool box roller cabinet is now $1600 after coupon, from an old price of $2700. That’s a nearly 41% net discount.
If you look at the 73″ Icon tool storage base cabinet, you save nearly $2000 off the original $5000 sticker price. With the 20% coupon, that’s a net discount of around 39%!
Prices have plummeted across Harbor Freight’s Icon tool storage product line, including on end cabinets, overhead cabinets, work centers, top tool box chests, and even accessories.
What we know: Harbor Freight has significantly slashed the prices on Icon tool storage products.
What we don’t know: Why?
As far as I can tell, there are two possibilities:
1) Harbor Freight had these prices in mind all along. Launching a new premium and pro-grade tool storage system at high prices got people talking. There were likely some early adopters, but there were perhaps more people who checked them out in-stores and considered that the prices were just a bit too high. Well, now the prices are a lot lower, who’s in for one?
2) Harbor Freight’s Icon tool box pricing was simply too high to gain substantial market share.
The 56″ base cabinet used to be $4000 before coupon, and is now priced at $2800 before coupon. Ignoring the 20% coupon, that’s still a 30% decrease in price. Their 36″ base cabinet has been discounted by ~26%, and their 73″ tool cabinet by 24%, again before 20% coupon.
So independent of that regular Icon tool storage 20% coupon, Harbor Freight has discounted its 3 Icon tool box cabinet sizes by 24% to 30%. The 20% coupon has popped up before, and it’s likely the “old” and “new” prices alike are inflated to accommodate this discount.
3) I suppose there’s also the remote possibility that sales volume has been so well that they were able to lower production costs and pass the savings onto customers, which is what Bridge City recently said about their new woodworking tool discounts.
But, let’s think about this practically – if sales are so successful that production costs can be meaningfully lowered, you don’t suddenly and dramatically lower prices. You sell at the introductory price, pocket extra profit, and then when sales slow down, then you lower prices to increase demand.
It doesn’t make sense that they would lower prices when demand is high.
So, which is it?
- This was the plan all along.
- This is a reactive measure, in response to low demand.
From what I can tell, from reader comments and other online discussions, there has been high interest in the Icon tool storage line, but few purchases. Harbor Freight’s US General tool boxes sell very well, but it seems that there was softer interest in the much higher-priced Icon tool storage products.
Icon tool storage products are larger, more featured, and beefier-built than US General, and the price reflected that.
Thus, it could be that slow sales prompted the price drops. This is the most reasonable explanation from marketing and economic standpoints.
However, these tool boxes appear to be well-built (an immature judgement from examining the in-store display), with Harbor Freight spending a lot of time and effort on their design, production, and marketing. Their entire Icon mechanics tools lineup does appear to be intended as a big step-up in quality and performance.
It could be possible that they expected some user hesitation about the initial launch prices. Icon tool box prices weren’t just uncharacteristically high for Harbor Freight, but perhaps even exorbitantly so. What if that was on purpose?
This seems possible, but unlikely, as lowering the prices less than a year later will burn any early adopters. Harbor Freight’s pricing might take into account 20% coupons, but I wouldn’t think they’d factor in a 24-30% introductory premium on top of that.
Still, there is the fact that their 2018 Icon tool box teaser had the 56″ base cabinet priced at $2500. It was because of this that the $4000 launch price was surprising. Now, its new price is said to be $2800, and $2240 after 20% coupon.
Thus, this could have been Harbor Freight’s plan all along, to drop the pricing on Icon tool boxes just before Father’s Day. But if so, this price change wouldn’t have significant long-term impact on the Icon tool storage lineup.
If this price drop resulted from low demand and low sales volume, how will this affect future Harbor Freight tool and tool storage launches?
From what I’ve seen, Harbor Freight Icon tools have been flying off the shelf, at least a couple of months ago, just after their ratchets first launched. Any ramifications would likely be isolated to the tool storage category.
If these Icon tool box and accessory discounts resulted from low sales, it could definitely affect their product roadmap. But then again, as users’ perceptions change over time, perhaps they might grow accustomed to more premium Harbor Freight tools and offerings at more premium prices.
It’s worth noting that Harbor Freight launched a sliding miter saw in 2018, at the time pricing it at $390 after coupon ($399 before). The price is currently $350. But to price a tool cabinet at $4000 before coupon and then $2800 before coupon, that is a far more significant change.
Something prompted these steep discounts.
A more cautious customer might be concerned about the future of the Icon lineup. If demand is low and sales slow, will an owner be able to add a matching top chest and side locker to their base cabinet in a year or two when finances permit it or as needs change? What about after five years?
Personally, I would gamble that Harbor Freight knows their customers and their loyalty. Other tool retailers and brands have abandoned less successful product lines – especially tool storage – but my gut instinct tells me that Harbor Freight wouldn’t do this, or perhaps they’d try a lot more before resorting to it.
Maybe they’ll suffer lower profit margins for now, and plan for re-worked Icon 2.0 tool storage products at similar pricing. But again, that’s assuming this price drop was in response to user perception and softer interest at launch pricing than anticipated. This wouldn’t have been their target pricing all along, right?
Moving past the why or what does this mean for Harbor Freight parts, I want to hear about what this means for you.
Harbor Freight has slashed the prices of their Icon tool cabinets, chests, and other storage products. How do you feel about it?
Oh, and here’s the coupon if you need it, good thru June 30th, 2020:
Kicking the Tires on the New Harbor Freight Icon Tool Cabinet