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Price tags often hold information about how long the item will be on sale and whether the item is at its lowest price.
This information isn’t supposed to be for you, the consumer. It’s for the retailer. But wouldn’t it be nice to be able to read these codes and find out whether the item you want is as cheap as it’s going to get?
We found out how to read the secret language of price tags at 19 of our favorite retailers in order to give you the buying power. Ready to beat retailers at their own game? Let’s do it.
Prices ending in 4 or 8 indicate the item is on clearance. But, there are two kinds of price cuts, and they’re both marked with yellow tags.
While permanent-price-cut items will retain their lower cost, temporary price cuts won’t and will go back up in price within 14 days and will be marked as “temporary.” Take advantage of those temporary deals while you can!
Look in the top right corner of clearance tags to see how much you’re truly saving on clearance items. The number you see is the percentage off a product’s original price.
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A price ending in 3 indicates a final price reduction. Three weeks from the date the price tag is printed for the first time, this item will be removed from shelves and either discarded or donated.
Yellow clearance price tags ending in 6 will drop again in 6 weeks. Be sure to learn all The Home Depot secrets to save big.
Ulta stores may mark down certain products that aren’t selling well with a red sticker (up to 75%!). They’re trying to make way for new inventory. These price reductions aren’t usually reflected online.
Store clearance will have deeper discounts than online sales, but selection is limited and is different from store to store.
Find super steep discounts on the Last Act clearance racks scattered throughout the store. White tags in the Last Act clearance section are actually cheaper than marked, so get a price check!
Yellow price tags ending in 6 are final markdowns, and blue tags ending in 3 are second-to-last markdowns. They’re usually in the mid 70%-off range and are on their way to a final yellow markdown.
Most Costco prices end in a 9, but there are some products out there whose price tags end in a 7 or 0.
These are the items to seriously consider buying since they’re either being discontinued or they’re manager markdowns.
If a product you love has an asterisks in the corner, you’d better stock up — you may never see it at Costco again!
7. Whole Foods
Just because the price tag says something like “Buy 3 for $5,” it doesn’t mean you have to buy three. You can buy one and still get the individual unit sale price.
Prices ending in $0.97 are final markdowns and cannot be returned. In rare cases, if this item doesn’t sell for at least a month, it’s “killed” again. In photo above, the item was marked $4.97, then marked down again to $2.97.
A price ending in 7 may also indicate that an item has been discontinued and won’t be produced again — which is pretty routine for clothing stores’ seasonal offerings.
A square in the upper-right corner of an LCD price tag indicates the item has reached the lowest price of the season. The price won’t drop again unless it goes on clearance.
Like Costco, Kohl’s has a coding system to track markdowns and place signage. Codes appearing in the upper-right corner of an LCD price tag can include:
- BB = Bonus Buy
- BGH = Buy One, Get One Half Off
- PP= Product Placement: The sale price is fixed and not a percent discount.
- S = Sale: The item will be on sale for 1-2 weeks.
10. Old Navy
The pace and timing of markdowns at Old Navy are not universal, but rather very dependent on store inventory and available space.
The one thing we do know is that a clearance tag always ends in 7 or 9, and when you see a tag that ends with the digits .47, it means it’s the final sale price. It will rarely be marked down again.
When you see a tag ending with the number 7, jump on it. This is an all-time-low price.
Clearance items are marked down in accordance to JCP’s corporate direction until they hit 80% off. From there, it’s solely up to the discretion of the store manager or pricing team to determine the price of the item. Tags ending in .97 indicate the pricing decisions are now owned by the store rather than corporate. The store will continue to drop these prices as they see fit to make room for new products on the floor.
If you like an item with a yellow “last chance” tag, purchase it ASAP. “Last chance” means an item will no longer be carried in the store in order to make room for new inventory.
13. WinCo Foods
Scan the aisles (and bulk section!) for green tags, and you’re bound to save big. Sale prices tend to last approximately three weeks and are determined by the quantity purchased by your local store.
Orange clearance stickers mean items are at or near their final markdown. When you see a green sticker, this indicates a new clearance item. I recommend you try to wait to buy unless you need it immediately.
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Prices ending in 0 or 9 indicate the item is on clearance.
16. Banana Republic
Prices ending in .47, .49, .97, or .99 indicate the prices are reduced or on clearance.
Full price items end in .00 or .99. Always use coupons if you must buy these! Clearance items have a price tag ending in .93 or .97.
18. Office Depot
If the price ends in anything but .00, .50, or .99, it is on clearance.
If the price ends in .07, it’s been reduced but may not always mean final clearance.