You’ve likely noticed that stores often price items with a nine at the end – 99 cents, $39.99, etc. There’s research to back this practice up. A study by MIT and the University of Chicago showed that demand is higher a product when its price ends in a nine.
However, sometimes stores use price tags to track things internally. If you learn what they’re signaling, you can truly find great deals.
Kohl’s uses electronic price tags and their prices can change throughout the day. On the upper-right of price tags, different symbols and codes can tell you what’s happening behind the scenes.
- S. An “S” in the upper right indicates that the item is on sale and will be for about one to two weeks total.
- PP. This means there is a fixed sale price as opposed to a percentage discount.
- BGH. You can buy one and get the second half off.
- BB. There is a deep discount – a bonus buy – on the product.
- NM. A new markdown means that the price will drop later that day or early the next day. Either hold off, or make the purchase and request a refund for the difference once the price drops.
- A Square. A filled in black square indicates the price is the lowest it’s going to be unless it gets put into the clearance section. A good time to buy.
Costco is known for low prices and large quantities. Rebates are often spelled out for you, but you can also read the warehouse store’s price tags to learn when there’s a sale.
- Odd prices ending in $.x9. If the price tag ends in a nine, but not $.99 (e.g. $.79, $.49, etc.) it’s likely part of a manger’s or manufacturer’s special.
- $.97. This product has been marked down, often because it’s not selling very well at this location. It’s possible the price will drop even more, but you at least know it’s on sale at this point.
- $.00 or $.88. This product is part of a regional or store-specific sale. Sometimes this is used for display models or returned items that are being resold.
- *. An asterisk on the top right of a price tag means the item won’t be restocked. Although this isn’t necessarily a marker that there’s a sale, it might be your last chance to buy the item at For seasonal items, like sunscreen, the product might just be temporarily pulled.
Owned and operated by Walmart, Sam’s Club membership-only shopping often offers low prices but a few price codes can cue you in on additional savings.
- $.01. Prices that end in one cent are on clearance.
- C. The same as the above, price tags with a C on them are on clearance.
Many of these stores only have one or two price code secrets, so we’ve bunched them together to make things easier.
- Old Navy. Clearance prices ending in $.x7 or $.x9 and are clearly shown on an orange sticker. However, if the item still isn’t selling the price will drop again. This final sale price is indicated by an ending of $.47.
- Gap. If there’s a price ending in $.97 the item is priced to move. The price might drop again if the store still has inventory after several weeks, but it will again end in a $.97.
- JCPenney. Prices ending in 99 cents are on sale, but you’ll get the deepest discount if the prices end in 97 cents.
Staples uses letter codes to indicated different things about products in their stores.
- C. Goods with a C are on clearance. They’re often on sale for about 15 to 30 percent off, and the item might not be restocked after it’s sold out.
- F. This indicates the product is in its final days. Markdowns might start around 20 percent but can continue to increase over time. If several months go by and there’s still inventory to sell, the prices might drop by 80 to 90 percent. Sometimes the prices also end in $.50.
- R. Items with an R are going to be sent back to the manufacturer, destroyed, or donated. They might not be on sale, but even if they’re not you could ask for a discount from the manager.
In addition to hiding some information within price tags, Home Depot gives each employer the power to make an adjustment of up to $50 during a sale.
- $.x6. Yellow-price tags indicate a sale, but it’s not necessarily a final sale. Products ending in $.x6 will be marked down again in six weeks.
- $.x3. Similar to the above, items ending in $.x3 will be removed from the shelves within three weeks.
If you know of other stores that use price code secrets, especially if you work at one of the retailers, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below!