Decoding Store Price Tags

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(Memphis) Grab your pen and paper.  The On Your Side Investigators have the scoop on a shopping tool that's sure to save you some cash!

Between all of the circulars, ads and email alerts, it's sometime difficult to distinguish when a sale really is a sale.

WREG spoke with Kyle James, a coupon guru, blogger and father of three who says there's a method to all the madness.

"You kind of have the inside scoop on whether or not this product has actually been marked down," explains James of the site Rather Be Shopping.

James says, "You can use the last two numbers in the price tag to figure out if you're getting a good deal or not."

After getting insider secrets from employees, James compiled this list of stores where consumers can crack the price tag code.

James says he first heard about a way to look for clearance prices at Target.

"The case was, if it ended in .99, you're getting a good price, .98 is markdown price, with the potential to go down even further."

The On Your Side Investigators put the theory to the test at Costco and Sam's Club, two other retailers listed on James' blog.

We also shared the idea with shoppers like Felicia Robinson and Nic Tutor.

"I have not heard of that before," Robinson told us.

"It's pretty cool," added Tutor.

At both stores, James says the key is to also pay close attention to the shelf tag in addition to the last, two digits of the price.

James says the better deals at Sam's Club are for prices ending in 1, as in .71 or .01.

In addition, there's a letter an the end of each item number that indicates whether it might be a better bargain.

According to James, "A" means active, "N" means never out and "C" is for clearance or close out.

So, he says to really grab a steal, look for a price ending in 1, with a C in the item number.

We found a Rowenta Steam Iron for $35.01, with a C on the shelf tag.

I used an app to scan the item and compare prices right there in the store and the same product was almost $15 more expensive online.

James says at Costco, .99 means full price, while .34, .97, .88 or .00 is a markdown.  However, he says customers should look for an asterisk on the shelf tag for a better bargain.

For example we saw an electric skillet, marked down to $24.97 which was roughly $8 cheaper than what we found online.

"Wow that's neat.  I'd never thought about, I've seen the asterisk, but I never thought about it being a discount," said Robinson.

Tutor had recently read about decoding prices tags on social media.  He said he would use the tip when purchasing big ticket items.

"This is something I would consider because I love bargain shopping," added Robinson.
James says, "It's a good little cheat sheet you can use to figure out if you're going to get a good deal."

We contacted both Sam's Club and Costco to ask about the internal pricing systems.  We haven't heard back on confirmation from Sam's reps.

A spokesperson from Costco told us by email, "Some of this you have right & some of this changes from time to time. We are not in a position to confirm and/or endorse our pricing methodology.  ...If we wanted to communicate this to our members, we would do so ourselves."

If you try to crack the price tag code, or look for patterns at your favorite stores, keep in mind, retailers do make changes.