Contrary to popular believe, not everything at Costco is on sale.
This coffee maker sold at a 47% savings at Costco, and the price card tells the story of its discount.
Consumers need to read the fine print on Target's clearance tags to know what kind of bargain they're getting.
The letters in the upper right hand corner of the digital price displays at Kohl's are key to cracking the store's pricing code.
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Stores are constantly trying to lure
customers with the promise of big sales. So how do you know if you're
really getting the lowest price? The answer may lie in a code hidden on
the price tags you see every time you're at a store.
Our shopping expert says the key to saving dollars all comes down to the
cents. Sales are the Holy Grail for penny-wise consumers.
Californian Kyle James of the shopping blog rather-be-shopping.com
says he's unlocked a secret to saving money. James says he has translated
the internal language a number of major retailers use to code sale items.
"It really empowers the consumers to figure out what kind of a discount
this is," James said.
The first key isn't what the price starts with, but what it ends with --
the change to the price after the decimal point instead of before the
decimal point, according to James.
WAVE 3 News went shopping and put James' theory to the test. At Costco,
where contrary to popular belief, not everything is on sale, James said
only prices that end in 7 or .97 have been marked down.
If you see a price tag with an asterisk, James says that means the item
won't be restocked to clear space.
If you find both of those markings together, you're really
"I've done the research, and it's typically 20 to 30 percent cheaper than
anywhere else you're going to find it," James said.
We found a $39.97 coffee maker with an asterisk at Costco priced at
$74.99 online. That's a 47 percent savings.
At Kohl's, James said to look for the small letter in the right hand
corner of the digital price display. It's a code even one Kohl's employee
didn't know about.
"No, I don't know what that means," the Kohl's employee told our secret
James says an "S" on the digital display stands for an ongoing sale price
that doesn't have a time limit. A "GV" means "great value," which
indicates a limited time price drop. Consumers should act fast on a GV
before the price goes back up.
At Target, consumers have to read the fine print in the top right hand
corner of clearance tags to know what kind of bargain they're getting.
A "30" means 30 percent off, "50" stands for 50 percent and so on.
If you're interested in a clearance item that has a lot of inventory but
a small discount, patience will be a virtue.
"Every 10 to 14 days they mark stuff down," James said," so wait, come
back, you know it's going to be marked down even further."
James admits this is not an exact science. His blog says Target prices
ending in .99 are full price, but we found a number of items ending in .99
at Target that were on sale.
In addition, at JCPenney, where James believes anything ending in .00 is
full price, that is not the case.
James said he constantly updates the information on his blog.
"Knowledge is power, and for consumers, we really need to shop smart and
make sure we're getting the best deal," James said.
He hopes shoppers use his forum to share tips and insight so everyone
knows what the numbers on the price tag say about how much you pay.
WAVE 3 News reached out to a number of the stores to see what they had to
say about James' claims. Target spokesman Evan Lapiska said in a
"At Target, we use a number of different factors to determine the price
for an item. The ending digit of a clearance price is determined by
several factors including the original retail price and the applied
percentage discount. It is not possible to determine the final markdown or
timing of the price change from the item's current price."
WAVE 3 News is still waiting to hear from some of the other companies.
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