Retailer’s Big Secret: Crack the Price Tag CodeSeptember 24, 2013 by Kyle 20 comments • Filed Under Consumer News
Have you ever been staring at that awesome blender at Costco, dreaming of blending your fruit smoothie with ease, and notice the odd price of $149.97 and wonder how the heck they came up with that price? If you are normal, probably not. But after you read this article you’ll be checking out every price tag you see because if you know what to look for, you can quickly determine if the price might go even lower or if it’s as low as it’s going to go.
How? Well, many stores use an internal pricing system which shows you if an item has been marked down, if it will be marked down again, or if it’s a final markdown. You just gotta be able to crack the code. Thanks to former employees and code crackers like me, you too can join the ranks of price tag checkers. Here are the details from some of your most popular retailers:
I found the Costco pricing system to offer the most potential savings if you are a diligent and always examine price tags before making a purchase. Here is how it breaks down:
- Prices ending in .99 - this is the full retail price of items at Costco.
- Prices ending in .97, .88, or .00 - these 3 ending prices are marked down prices and offer substantial savings over the full retail price.
- Price Tag with an Asterisk on it - if you can find deals with a markdown price along with an asterisk, you are getting the best price possible. The asterisk means the item is discontinued and not returning to the warehouse in the near future. The Costco image above has the asterisk in the top right corner.
- Prices ending in .79, .49, or .89 – These prices mean the item is a manufacturer’s special price and is typically only available for a fixed amount of time.
Target (aka Tar-zhay)
Target, the favorite store for those who think they’re above Walmart, is where we will start the code cracking. They have three price tag prices to keep in mind in order to get the best deal:
- Prices ending in .99 – that is full price baby!
- Prices ending in .98 – the price has been marked down once and expect another one real soon if the merchandise doesn’t clear out.
- Prices ending in .04 – this price is a final markdown and if you don’t snatch it up they will probably give it away to the local shelter.
The Home Depot
The Home Depot, with it’s cavernous aisles and sporadically dispersed orange apron patriots, has a very simple pricing system. Make sure you drop popcorn on the ground so you can work your way back to the front of the store after you have found your final markdown air compressor. Here is all you need to know:
- Prices ending in .06 - that is the final markdown and lowest price you are going to EVER get on the item. Buy!
- Item with Green Tag - if the item has a price tag printed on a green tag you’re also getting the lowest price possible.
Sears has a pricing system that can really save you money if you use it correctly. When making a significant purchase be sure to buy only when the price is at clearance or final markdown. This is especially true when buying electronics, patio furniture and lawn mowers.
- Prices ending in .99 - you’ll be paying full retail price, hope you have a Sears coupon at the very least.
- Prices ending in .97 - this is the price of a discontinued item on clearance. The price could go down even further.
- Prices ending in .88 – this is the final markdown price and your best possible deal at Sears.
Office Depot keeps their pricing strategy a little closer to their vest. They don’t have a final markdown price but they will keep lowering clearance pricing until certain merchandise is gone. Here is what we do know:
- Prices ending in .00, .99, or .50 - you’re paying full price again, shame on you!
- Prices ending in everything except .00, .99, or .50 - these are you’re marked down items. The example in the above picture is a price of $13.01 and $34.01, both markdown products.
Gap & Old Navy
- Prices ending in .47, .49, .97 or .99 - Thanks to current Old Navy employee, John, for this tip. If the price ends with any of these, then the item is marked as clearance or discontinued and is probably the best price you’re going to get. TIP: Keep an eye out for clearance sales where they lower the clearance price by a flat 30% of 40% off. They typically do this at the end of the season to clear out old merchandise.
BJ’s Wholesale Club
For my readers who live in the eastern United States, BJ’s Wholesale Club also has an internal pricing system that can help you score the best deal possible.
- Prices ending in a 9 - You’re paying full price for the item.
- Prices ending in .90 and .00 - Manager’s special discount. These are typically items the store wants to clear out. They are usually discounted 10% per week for a maximum savings of 60% off.
- Product Codes at BJ’s - These are the numbers on the price tag right next to the item number. See above picture: Arrow is pointing to the product code. Here are the 4 product codes you should be aware of:
- Product Code 1 – It is a regularly priced item that will be restocked.
- Product Code 2 – Product is discontinued and once it’s gone, it’s gone. Sometimes it is discounted, depends on how long it has been sitting on the shelf.
- Product Code 7 – A one time buy like seasonal Christmas decorations. Here today, gone tomorrow. So if the price is right you should snatch it up.
- Product Code 9 – Products that are destined to be sent back to the manufacturer for a variety of reasons. They won’t be restocked and likely will be gone within a week.
Ask the Reader: Have you noticed any other internal pricing strategies that retailers use? If so, what are they? Let’s make this article a go-to resource for shoppers. I look forward to your comments. Thanks!
Bonus! – Printable Cheat Sheet for your Wallet or Purse!
Due to popular demand, I have made a printable PDF cheat sheet to reference when shopping in store. Just download it, print it out, and cut along the perforated lines. It is the size of a business card and will easily fit in your wallet or purse. I hope it helps! CLICK HERE to view and print the PDF file.
By Kyle James
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