Secret Price Code
Secret Price Code

How to spot the best deal at Costco, Target, BJ’s, Sam’s Club..

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How to spot the best deal at Costco, Target, BJ’s, Sam’s Club and the like?

Secret Price Code
Secret Price Code
When you are moving a large amount of inventory every day, keeping track on retail, mark downs and sale items could get very difficult to manage. Over the years many retailers have come up with their own ways to keep track of items on stock by assigning them a special code or sku or replacement markdown sticker etc. The most innovative we have seen so far are retailers like Costco, Best Buy, and Target etc.   In this article, we’ll make an attempt to uncover some of these and how shoppers can utilize this knowledge to their advantage and get the best price on an item.

Costco Wholesale (Costco) – Costco is a member-only retail store that offers a wide variety of products and services from many vendors along with their own product brand name called Kirkland. Costco is known to carry high quality products and is well loved by its members for all it has to offer. You can buy anything for home, garden, kitchen, paper good, cleaning supplies, tv, laptops, jewelry etc. and they continue to add more products every day. They also offer member-only services for buying car/boat/truck, insurance, vacations, small business services etc. Costco memberships start at $55 for Gold Star/Business and $110 for Executive membership with 2% cash back. With so much at stake and so much volume to move everyday, no wonder they had to come up with one of the most innovative ways to identify their inventory. Costco marks their inventory prices in four (4) different categories.

costco price tag details

Regular Price/ Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) .99

You can easily spot default price/MSRP if the item price ends in .99. For example, if you see any item priced at $9.99, $14.99 or $49.99,  it’s the manufacturer suggested retail price and there is nothing really special about that price.

Manufacturer Markdowns .x9

Now, this one is interesting and still fairly easy to pick out from the rest. Just look for anything ending in 9 except .99. For example, prices like $3.79, $55.69, $220.19 etc. They are all manufacturer markdowns and items on sale due to manufacturer discounts.

Store Manager’s Special Prices .97

These are super easy to identify, just look for item priced at cents value ending in .97. A bag of chips at $2.97 or a laptop for $549.97, they are all store manager specials and really great deals.

Clearance or Inventory reduction sale prices (Lowest) .00 or .88

This one is classic. I don’t know why they picked .88 but .00 makes much more sense. If you see an item with price ending in .00 or .88, these are clearance or inventory reduction items, probably the lowest prices you will find on regular items.

There is a special category to identify discontinued products, you can spot them easily by looking for an asterisk (*) on the price label toward the top right, disregard any (*) anywhere else in the item description or title. These are typically one of the best deals in the store and most often don’t last very long. When buying an item with (*) marking especially electronics or equipment, make sure you validate the return/warranty before you make that final purchase.

BJ Wholesale (BJ’s) – BJ’s Wholesale Club, or most commonly called BJ’s is membership only store in the East coast that offers a wide variety of item to its members. Consumers can shop for grocery, home, auto, electronics, furniture, outdoor, sports, wellness, toys, jewelry etc. to name a few. BJ’s has its own way to mark items to identify the price in a few different categories:

Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) .99

Same as Costco, any item price ending in .99 is the default price suggested by the manufacturer.

Store Manager’s Special Prices .90 or .00

These are items that the store is trying to remove reduce inventory on, they are usually priced ending with .90 or .00, e.g. 7.90 or 30.00.

BJ’s also use special product codes that identify if the product is current/restock (code 1), discontinued/no-restock (code 2), seasonal (code 7) or return to manufacturer (code 9).

samsclub price tag details

Sam’s Club (A Walmart Company) – Sam’s Club resembles Costco a lot in the sense that they offer very similar products and services and cater to the same consumer base. You will find exceptional wholesale club values on thousands of items like TVs, laptops, furniture, office supplies, grocery, clothing, books, toys, gifts, pharmacy etc. The have a different membership cost model starting at $45 for Sam’s savings or Sam’s business and $100 for Sam’s plus.

Sam’s Club pricing is a bit simpler to understand, anytime you see a price ending in 1 like $9.91 or $49.01 these are items on sale/clearance and usually the best price on market. Sam’s Club also uses a special code towards the right top of the price tag indicating if it’s an item is active (A), never out of stock (N), cancelled/no reorder (C), discounted (2), one-time buy (7) and return to manufacturer (9) .

There are many other stores that use similar techniques to identify mark downs and clearance items. In the spirit of providing this information in a concise form, we have created this reference chart below that you can print and keep as you walk in any of these stores next time and get the best prices. Store Price Code Cheat Sheet Store Price Code Cheat Sheet


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