How to “Crack the Price Tag Code” for Holiday Savings

Updated December 11, 2023 by Kyle James

OK, so I figured it was time to come up with some highly practical ways to use my Crack the Price Tag Code resource to help you save money on your Holiday and Christmas shopping this year. I have had many emails from folks trying to figure out how to best use my info when shopping, especially on Black Friday. In other words, what products and gifts provide the best value when cracking the code. So it is with this in mind that I present some very usable ways to “crack the code” and cross names of your gift list at a MAJOR discount.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The earlier you shop, the better your chances of really making this stuff work to your advantage.

How to Crack the Price Tag Code for Holiday Savings

American Eagle Outfitters

Quick Recap: Price ending in .95 is full price, and prices ending in .00 or .99 is a clearance price and your best bet at American Eagle Outfitters.

  • Your single best strategy for Holiday savings at AEO is to wait until Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend.
  • Go in to the store on that infamous weekend, or shop online, and head straight for the clearance rack and look for items ending in .00 or .99.
  • Why? Because they always offer coupons on clearance items that time of year which will help you Christmas shop at close to 80% off the original price. You’ll save 20-30% more than any other time of year.

Can you “Crack the Code” on Black Friday?: Yes. American Eagle always has in-store coupons on Black Friday/Cyber Monday that are good for clearance items. So head to the store, crack the code, and use a coupon for savings in the 80% off range.

Home Depot

Quick Recap: Price ending in .06 and on a yellow price tag means it is a clearance item and has 6 weeks until next markdown. After that six week period it will be marked down to .03 which means 3 weeks until the item is liquidated.

  • Almost every Dad loves new tools for Christmas. Use the crack the code info and shop for tool and hardware gifts starting right now. You’ll save much more than if you wait for “Holiday” deals.
  • I was just in my local Home Depot over the weekend and was quite impressed with the number of yellow tags I found in the tools/hardware department.
  • You’ll find some good Black Friday deals on tools at The Home Depot but few of the deals will be as good as the yellow tag deals ending in .06 and .03.

Can you “Crack the Code” on Black Friday?: No. I highly recommend skipping Black Friday at your local Home Depot and instead shop the couple weeks before Christmas and shop the yellow tags.

You’ll not only save more money, but you’ll find more sales as they try to cash in on last-minute shoppers.


Quick Recap: .00 is full price, .99 is first clearance markdown price, .97 is final clearance and price will get cut in half every 2 weeks. The absolute lowest price an item can get is $2.97.

  • When I was filming my “Crack the Price Tag Code” segment with Good Morning America we walked into a JCPenney and I quickly realized that I’ll be doing a lot of my Christmas shopping with them.
  • They keep their clearance section in the far back of the store and it’s usually stocked with great gift ideas like housewares, dishes, apparel, heating blankets, silverware, linens, and pillows. I am totally going to shop for my Mom at JCPenney this year. Like starting right now.
  • Look for items ending in .97 and if they have a bunch of any particular item, wait a week or two, come back, and the item’s price will be cut in half. No joke, it will be. Try it for yourself.

Can you “Crack the Code” on Black Friday?: No. The Black Friday ad at JCPenney’s usually has some good deals in it, but from our research, none as good as looking for items ending in .97.


Quick Recap: Look at the digital price tags at Kohl’s, particularly in the upper right hand corner. If you see a “NM” it means new markdown and the item will go on sale that night or the following morning. “GV” means great value and is a limited time price drop. “S” is simply a sale item.

  • While the NM can be somewhat elusive, the great value (GV) can be found fairly easily. Look for the GV and only Christmas shop in those sections of the store. By doing so you’ll save a minimum of 25% off your purchase.
  • Also, be aware that you can use a Kohl’s printable coupon on ALL clearance items. So be sure to stack a coupon on top of your clearance purchase to save close to 50%.

Can you “Crack the Code” on Black Friday?: Yes. Because the Kohl’s coupons we get for Black Friday and Cyber Monday will also be good for clearance and “great value” items it is definitely worth your time shopping on Black Friday.

Office Depot

Quick Recap: Price ending in a 1 (example: $18.21) is first clearance markdown, ending in 2 is second clearance markdown, ending in 3 is third markdown, price ending in 4 is the “holy grail” and represents the final markdown price and the absolute best value at Office Depot.

  • I have it under solid authority that Office Depot marks things down every 7-10 days. So if you’re shopping for gift ideas and stocking stuffers and they have an item at the first or second clearance markdown wait and come back.
  • By Christmas shopping early you’ll have plenty of time to come back and get items only when the price ends in a 3 or 4.
  • Items that present the best buying opps when cracking the price tag code are as follows: Basic office supplies, small electronics, printers, software, packing supplies, and desk organizers.

Can you “Crack the Code” on Black Friday?: Yes. Office Depot is notorious for unloading some great clearance deals on Black Friday.

Shop on BF and instead of fighting over the door-buster deals, head for the clearance sections of the store and crack the price tag code for better savings.

Old Navy

Quick Recap: Prices ending .47, .49, .97, and .99 denote a clearance item at Old Navy.

  • The single best day of the year to shop at Old Navy, for both gift ideas and the ability to stock up for the following year, is Black Friday weekend. The autumn clearance deals are pretty darn amazing starting Black Friday morning going through Cyber Monday evening.
  • My wife and I use this info to our advantage and annually venture out to stock up at Old Navy on items ending in .47, .49, .99, and .97 for our 3 kids. We buy a size or two up and store items for the following year.
  • We easily save 65-80% off the original retail price on pants, sweaters, dress shirts, outerwear, and dresses.

Can you “Crack the Code” on Black Friday?: Yes. The real value of shopping on Black Friday at Old Navy is taking advantage of the clearance deals. In-season styles are typically not that great of a deal.

Plus, Old Navy typically offers some great clearance coupons on Black Friday that you can stack for even more savings.

Sam’s Club

Quick Recap: When shopping at Sam’s Club check out the letter in the upper right hand corner of the shelf tag and look for the “C”. This means the item is cancelled and is a clearance price and thus provides the best value.

  • Similar to Costco, Sam’s Club stocks quality brands and products across the board.
  • So if you’re Christmas shopping for your sister and she needs a new crock pot, go to the one with the “C” in the upper right hand corner of the price shelf tag.
  • I have had loyal Sam’s Club shoppers do the research for me and the “Cancelled” item almost always provides savings in the 25-35% range.

Can you “Crack the Code” on Black Friday?: No. Sam’s Club does NOT have more “Cancelled” items on Black Friday than any other day. So you’re better off going shopping on a less popular shopping day to avoid the crowd.


Quick Recap: .99 is full price, .97 is a discontinued item on clearance, and .88 is the final markdown price at Sears.

  • Where in the store should you look for the items ending in .97 or .88? This always works best in the Tools section as well as in Electronics and Appliances.
  • So when shopping for tools for Dad, or a new TV for your honey, always look for items ending in .88. The price will typically be close to 30% cheaper than
  • Last year I was able to shop on Black Friday weekend at Sears, walk past the crappy door-buster deals, and head straight for the brand-name TV ending in .88. I found a 42″ Panasonic LCD that was at a final markdown price along with a in-store BF sale where I could take off an additional 20%. It was 25% cheaper than Amazon and Best Buy.
  • Are you considering buying an appliance or TV for someone on your gift list? In addition to cracking the price tag code, be sure to learn how to successfully negotiate an even better deal at Sears.

Can you “Crack the Code” on Black Friday?: Yes. Take advantage of additional Sears coupons and clearance deals on BF, head into your local store, and then crack the code for maximum savings.


Quick Recap: Price ending in .99 is full price. .88, .98. 24, .04 is a clearance item. Check out the upper right hand corner of the clearance sticker for the tiny little number. It will say 15, 30, 50, 75, or 90 and that represents the percent off the original price. Clearance items get marked down every 10 to 14 days at Target.

  • When Christmas shopping, the best departments in Target to crack the code are: Electronics, apparel, shoes, small kitchen appliances, housewares, and linens.
  • When looking for bargain gift ideas, always look for items where the store has many in stock. By doing so, you’ll be able to start shopping early (like right now) and use my crack the code info to your advantage.
  • I was told by a Target employee that they mark items down every 10-14 days. So if the store has a bunch…wait and come back and nab your savings.
  • This obviously works best when you aren’t shopping for specific brands but rather shopping for the best value.

Can you “Crack the Code” on Black Friday?: Yes. Because of the influx of clearance and sale merchandise at Target on Black Friday weekend you’ll have significantly more opportunities to crack the price tag code.

Ask the Reader: Have you been able to crack the price tag and save money this year? I’d love to hear how my resource is helping you save.

By Kyle James


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Money Beagle

Cool info! I have heard of a few of these (Costco and Target) but most of these are new to me. Thanks!


How do we crack the Walmart code?

Betty Lou Palacina

Do these codes apply to the prices we see online too? Thanks!


This isn’t a BF deal info. To the Walmart code question- I started using the Savers App by Walmart and I love it! I have a $12.94 gift card waiting to use. I had stopped shopping at Walmart (dreaded it), live in East Memphis and too far to travel. The App scans over 100 stores for a couple of days and then gives you the difference if the app finds item for less. Walgreens had Pringles for approx $1.25, Walmart $1.52; Dr. Pepper 10 at Walmart $4.79, App found it at $2.50. They have a new manager Walmart, he is on his toes. You will see him working on the floor. Walmart pulled me back. I’m hoping Savers App works for BF deals. I’m going to ask manager if it will work.

Happy BF Shopping! Woohoo