Ah, Target clearance. The holy grail of deal hunting.
You can find some of the best deals ever just by waiting and watching for those little red stickers.
But it can also be pretty hard to predict. Lucky for you, we’ve done the legwork!
1. Know the weekly markdown schedule.
There is a method to the madness of which items get marked down during the week. For example:
- Monday: Electronics, Kids’ Clothing and Stationery
- Tuesday: Domestics, Women’s Clothing, Pets and Market
- Wednesday: Men’s Clothing, Toys, Health and Beauty, Lawn and Garden items
- Thursday: Home goods, Lingerie, Shoes, Sporting Goods, Movies, Music, Books, Decor and Luggage
- Friday: Auto, Cosmetics, Hardware, & Jewelry
2. Price tags ending in 6 or 8 will be marked down again during the next cycle.
…As long as there is inventory in the store! Usually these items will stay at the current discount for two weeks.
3. Price tags ending in 4 are final clearance.
If you see this number, buy! This is the lowest price you’ll see on that item at Target.
TIP: Price tags ending in $0.49, $0.79 or $0.99 indicate that there’s a gift card promotion running on that item.
4. Learn the Holiday Clearance schedule. (It doesn’t play by normal clearance rules!)
Fair warning: Holiday clearance hunting at Target is not a science, it’s an art.
Even in the same region, stores will lag behind or go on clearance ahead of each other. But on the whole, you can expect to see this holiday clearance schedule at most Target stores:
- First day after the holiday: 50% off for non-food, 30% off for food and candy starting the day after a holiday and lasting three days.
- Fourth day after the holiday: 70% off for non-food, 50% off for food and candy starting the fourth day after a holiday, also lasting about three days.
- Seventh day after the holiday: 90% off for non-food, 70% off for food and candy starting on the seventh day, lasting only one to two days. (Candy and food only goes to 70% off.)
Holiday clearance sales last for about a week or week and a half. They typically end on a Tuesday night, and anything remaining will be salvaged Wednesday.
5. There are two kinds of Target Clearance: Ticketed and Non-ticketed.
Non-ticketed clearance is seasonal and follows the post-holiday 10-day markdown schedule. This type will be marked by red signs with white letters that say “markdown taken at register.”
Non-ticketed clearance will start at 30% off and follow the holiday markdown schedule.
Ticketed clearance are items that have a red clearance sticker and are marked individually as “clearance.”
TIP: Non-ticked clearance is done in the computer, and the signs aren’t always updated as soon as the markdown is live. So price check those items to see if they’re at an even steeper discount than advertised!
6. Only shop for toys during the Target toy clearance events.
Target toy clearance is the best time to get deals on toys.
This epic clearance event happens in January and July every year, typically the 2nd or 3rd week of the month.
If you watch (and don’t forget to check the store first thing on Wednesday mornings!) you can score name-brand toys for up to 70% off.
7. Items marked “as is” or “repackaged” may not be discounted. Except when they are.
Discounted items marked “as is” or “repackaged” are not markdowns, but the sticker looks almost exactly the same as a clearance sticker.
These are returns that people bring into a Target store that doesn’t carry that item. They might not even be discounted, so be sure to check on the regular price!
Realize that sometimes these returns are from an online purchase and Target will heavily discount these items to sell them quickly. Keep an eye out for these gems.
8. The are three different categories of Target clearance markdowns: First, Further and Final.
“First” clearance markdown is usually 30% off, except for health, beauty and grocery which starts at 15% off.
“Further” clearance markdowns are 50% off (30% off for those that started at 15% off), and “Final” clearance markdowns are 70% off.
9. Non-holiday clearance markdowns happen about two weeks apart.
This is a general rule of thumb but not always accurate, so if there’s an item you must have but it’s not at the very lowest you know it can go, always buy it. Some items aren’t around anymore to get that final markdown.
Some markdowns go faster towards the end of the the markdown cycle, and all markdowns are dictated by Target corporate.
Your local store has no control over when an item gets marked down or salvaged.
10. Check the sides of end-caps in health and beauty.
99% of the time, Target Clearance will be in one of three places:
- The seasonal section of the store
- Specific aisles (this is mostly true for the bi-annual toy clearance)
- End-caps throughout the store.
Be sure to keep your eyes open in any of these locations, especially the sides of end-cap displays in the the health and beauty section.
TIP: Make it a habit to look closely for little red clearance stickers in any area of the store, not just end-caps.
11. After final 70% clearance markdowns, most items are salvaged (sent to donate to other places).
“Salvaged” means that the item is no longer in the computer system and will ring up “item not found.”
Salvaged items are taken to receiving where they are passed off to charitable organizations.
TIP: Some items of higher value may be salvaged earlier than 75% off, so watch carefully for the item you’re waiting to purchase to go for 50% off, and consider purchasing then.
12. Check the Target clearance section online for more selection.
Don’t see that item you’ve been stalking in your store?
The clearance section of Target.com is much more extensive than in-store clearance, with better sizing options.
But be careful because you’ll rarely see the same low prices you see in-store.