Part 1: Cracking the Markdown Code

September 9, 2014

Have you ever wondered why items are on sale for a strange amount of money? It has recently been revealed that the ending numbers of the price tag can say a lot about the deal that you are getting. Stores have their own price coding systems to alert you to when an item is on sale, clearance, or won’t be restocked. Paying attention to this code can really let you know if it’s a good bargain or not. Check out these tips for your future purchases.

American Eagle

Prices ending in $ .95 are full priced items at American Eagle. Items that end in $ .99 or $ .00 are
actually sale items and have probably reached their lowest price. Look for a separate price tag or sticker for clearance items. The ending number on clearance items doesn’t matter.

Gap/Old Navy/Banana RepublicOld Navy Sale Tag

There are mixed reports on these store’s pricing strategies, but most sources suggest that prices ending in $ .98 means that the item has been discounted and $ .47, $ .49, $ .97 or $ .99 indicate clearance items, or anything else ending in a $ .07. It has also been reported that $ .99 indicates a full-priced item, so use your best judgement there. Since they are all owned by one company, it seems that the strategy is the same throughout Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic stores.

JC Penney

Items that are discounted at JC Penney end in $ .99. Items that end in $ .97 are clearance items, and are usually also marked with a red clearance sticker price. You can be sure you are getting a great deal with red sticker prices.


Kohl’s has a letter code in the upper right corner of their price tags. An item marked with a GV (Great Value) or S (sale) means that the item is discounted. GVs are usually limited to a few days. NM (new markdown) means that the item will be going on sale soon. Look for Limited Quantities stickers as well. These mean that the items are limited to inventory on hand are usually marked down by a huge amount. Items that end in a $ .97 are clearance items. You may find that when you get to the register the price will be even less. And don’t forget that Kohl’s Cash and coupons are also good on clearance and discontinued items.

Land’s End

Items that end in $ .99 or $ .97 are discounted from full-price. Most sale items can be found in your local Sears or Land’s End store, but they do have sale items on the website too.

Office Depot

At Office Depot, items that end with $ .x1 to $ .x4 are on clearance. Items marked with $ .x4 will not get any lower, so they are as good of a deal as you can get.


Staples uses one letter codes to indicate the pricing on their items.

  • A (Active pricing) – These items are regular-priced items or weekly specials.
  • I (Inactive Item) –  These items are going to be replaced soon with a new model, is not going to be carried anymore, or is going to move to the P category soon. It is hard to find a good discount on an I item.
  • P (Promotion) – P items are usually things like seasonal items, things vendors are looking to get rid of, and other items throughout the store. They too are almost never discounted, except for weekly sales.
  • C (Clearance) – Clearance items are Staples are marked down between 10% and 15% from original retail price. There is usually a limited number of these items, so they are available on a limited basis. If you like it, grab it.
  • F (Final or Field)- These items are marked down between 20% and 90%, depending on how long they have been on the shelf.
  • R (Return) – These items have been returned to the store and are sometimes marked down. It is a good idea to ask why they were returned, just to be on the safe side. There is also a chance that the price on these items is negotiable, since the store will have to send them back after a certain amount of time. So don’t be afraid to ask for a manager to see if you can haggle a better price.

Targetclearance clothing rack

Almost all of Target’s prices end in $ .x9. This indicates a full-priced item. Anything ending with another number is on sale. Items on clearance have a red clearance sticker on them. You can find on this sticker the percentage of the markdown so you know exactly how good of a deal you are getting. You can find clearance items all over the store, usually at the ends of aisles. Things like discontinued diapers or damaged boxes may be a great deal on items that don’t usually go on sale.

If you are heading out for some last minute back to school shopping, take these helpful hints with you. They may show you the way to bigger savings and a better way to start off the school year. And stay tuned for part two!

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