Target Price Drop Hack

UPDATE: Check out, “More Price Tag Codes Decrypted.”

A reader writes in with an interesting, potentially true, unconfirmed tip about Target’s pricing.

    Target’s full prices end in 9. So the first price tag will be $14.99 or $27.99, something like that.

    Then, every time Target discounts the product, the final digit of the price drops.

    The lowest the last digit will drop is 4.

    If you see something you want at Target and the price ends in 4, buy it. The price won’t go any lower.

Yes, this tip makes us happy. We know what you’re doing Target. We’re on to you. —MEGHANN MARCO

(Thanks, AVN!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. DeeJayQueue says:

    Lots of places do that. At BB&B the numbers across the top of the price tag are supposed to represent the month and year the item was tagged and the store number. This is so that they can track people who are returning things past the cutoff date, or stealing things from one store and returning them to another. They also use price coding to determine the difference between as-is and normal merchandise.

  2. forgeten says:

    when I worked at eckerds they did something similar as well.

  3. Sears did the same thing when I worked there in high school. I think 97 was the lowest price point.

  4. RumorsDaily says:

    AVN is traditionally the acronym for Adult Video News (link NSFW) and I was initially befuddled as to why you’d be receiving Target shopping tips from such an unusual journalistic bastion.

    I was wondering what sort of tips would be next down the pipe from them… eww… “down the pipe”.


  5. ckilgore says:

    This tip is awesome and very handy for those of us who don’t live very close to Target and can’t be running over there every day. Which I would do. Really. It’s sad.

  6. RogueSophist says:

    This might be a good indicator of whether a product has been discounted, but I can’t see it being reliable for determining whether a product will be discounted further. Does this mean there can only be five total price drops? What if a particularly ugly shirt is $3.74 and Target decides it wants to cut its losses and sell it for a dollar less?

    Pricing Manager A: “Well, Bob, we thought this price would be ideal for moving these ugly shirts, but they’re just not selling. Let’s price them a bit more aggressively.”

    Pricing Manager B: “Oooooh, Jim, no dice. As you well know, the VP will have our asses if we make a price change when the price already ends in 4!”

    Pricing Manager A: “But what…what if we change it to a lower price that also ends in 4?”

    Pricing Manager B: “They don’t pay us to think, Jim. You know the rules. Call down to the boiler room. We’re going to have to burn these suckers.”

  7. toolverine says:


    When I worked at Target ( I imagine little has changed in the past couple of years)there were four price markdowns: 25, 50, 75, and 90 percent. If the product failed to sell after sitting on the endcaps or special clearance section at 90% off, the item would be crated and sent off toa retailer that deals with remainders, such as Big Lots.

  8. infinitysnake says:

    It’s true, but it’s not something you have to go sniffing for- Target helpfully puts those items with little red tags on a big shelf clearly marked “clearance.” BTW, Target’s clearance prices are excellent, I never pay full price for soap, shampoo, or toothbrushes, and I get a lot of kid’s t-shirts for two or three dollars a pop.

  9. Amry says:

    The thing that’s tricky about “final prices” is that stores often have the ability to slice the “final price” in half, and in half again, in the weeks after that final mark, depending on how it’s selling in their individual store. Not sure if Target is one of the retailers who does that or not.

    And for what it’s worth, prices that end in 7 at Gap Inc stores are on their “final price”. But again, stores have discretion to kill those further if it’s still not selling. If you ever find something ending in 7 with a line through the barcode, though, you’re probably finding a final price that’s been further killed, meaning its probably the lowest you’ll ever see it.

  10. infinitysnake says:

    Also- it can and often does go below ‘4.’ Generally, they take off 30% the first time around, and lowest is often 75%, but it can go as low as 90% off, if it lasts that long.

  11. e-gadgetjunkie says:

    Where I work at Office Depot, it is the same thing. An item at .01 is at the first clearance level and it will go as low as .04 before we have to take it off the shelves.

  12. c-side says:

    Excellent decryption post. Love this kind of information. Thanks.

  13. MeOhMy says:

    I don’t really know how useful it is. Basically, I cruise the endcaps and if I find something I like and think it’s cheap enough, I’ll buy it. Maybe it will get cheaper, but maybe it will sell out, too. I’ve been burned by that at Target. Show up a week later and that cool clearance item that was only 30% off last week is nowhere to be found.

  14. Troy, it wasn’t cheap enough for you, but it was cheap enough for someone else.

  15. spanky says:

    Oh, cool! I am actually feeling quite haughty and superior right now because my linen closet is stocked with a bunch of soap and shampoo and stuff with price tags ending in 4. Like I have some preternatural ability or something.

    Um, so if I may ask, what is the product in that photo? It seems to be something that ends in “e Bag.”

    Please don’t just let this just be some kind of douche bag confirmation bias on my part.

  16. Magister says:

    Very good information. I always scan the endcaps at whatever Target I am in at the time. I know that items can be marked down multiple times, but I didnt’ realize that the last number was the key. Thanks!!!

  17. k2design says:

    Duh — see that little “30” in the top right corner of the clearance tag? That means the price is now 30% off. Target’s standard clearance scheme is this: 15% off, 30% off, 50%, 75%, and on occasion, 90%. These cuts are all indicated in that same corner.

    Now here’s the bigger trick… knowing when to buy. Target’s cuts are based on inventory. If there’s just a little bit of clearance, the cuts are made more slower than if there’s a great pile. This is calculated on a store-by-store basis — don’t expect to find price matching between the store by your house and the store by your work, even if they’re in the same town!

  18. kenposan says:

    I feel like I live at Target. We always get good deals there, I’ll have to pay attention the “4” thing next time.

  19. William Mize says:

    This is a great little hack, makes going to Target even more fun.
    And yes @Troy F has a great cautionary tale in that sometimes you’re better off just grabbing it when it’s in front of you, as opposed to seeing if that 5 on the end will make it down to a 4.

  20. infinitysnake says:

    Agreed- it’s best to cruise the clearance often rather than wait for a price drop, because those clearance spots are popular!

    My best scores: a wool rug for $90 (similar rug at Costplus is about $450) $60 coffee grinder for $16, four hardwood chairs for $24, shopvac for $15.

    Most of the sections have a seasonal rotation, so if you know when to go, you can stock up on a lot of gifty stuff to put away- I buy a lot of candles & holders, decorative items, toys, etc., to put aside for b-day and Christmas gifts later. Other things go out near-weekly- appliances, cosmetics and soap, toys, sporting goods, air fresheners/dishsoap/etc.

  21. FamilyGuy2006 says:

    Mervyns and Target used to be owned by the same corporation, though I believe Mervyns was sold. Anyway – A friend of mine worked for Mervyns for 3 years or so. Mervyns full price ended in .00. Sale price ended in .99. Clearance price ended in .98. If there was something wrong with the item, it ended in .66…though I can recall on many occasions changing the price by .01 if the price was 6.66…lots of people didn’t like any reference to devil numbers. ;) I think there was sometimes something ending in a 7…but can’t remember. Aren’t you just thrilled I shared this useless knowledge with you????? ;)

  22. Blarbo says:

    I worked in price change at Target for a year. The price drops are percentages. 25%, 50%, 75%, and occasionally 90%. The price changes are entirely automatic, no one has control over when they take place or what amount they are sold for. It also depends on the department, Electronics items usually have more price steps because they are higher demand items, so I believe they start at 15% and go from there.

    Rule of thumb, 75% is the lowest you’ll see an item at.

    Working in price change got me some incredible deals because we get first picks on the clearanced items, such as a Roomba for 20 dollars, an 800 dollar TV for 200, etc.

  23. I got a hoodie for 4 bucks, that I wear religiously to this day. I get compliments on it all the time too. It’s like four years old now.

  24. benjimandodd says:

    i work for target. idk if that’s true but a good rule is look for 75% off stuff. we usually take it out of the system after that. sometimes with seasonal items they will take it down to 90% off to get it out faster.

    the whole deal with our merchandise is 90 percent of the store is set on planograms(a whole bunch of items together in the system). we have those planograms for a certain amount of time and then we clearance them out to make way for new stuff. keep it interesting.

    it always goes 30, then 50 then 75.

    hope this helps you target shoppers.

  25. acceptablerisk says:

    There’s another little trick you can try. It’s been a while since I’ve tried it, but it may still work.

    The rain check policy at Target allows them to substitute another item in the same category at the same percentage discount. So if they’ve got, let’s say, Batman on DVD on sale for 25% off, but they’re out of them, you can get any other DVD for 25% off instead.

  26. Blarbo says:


    That won’t work. Short story, clearance and regular merchandise don’t mix. You’ll only get away with that if the Guest Service employee doesn’t know what they’re doing.

  27. Coltz says:

    I work at Target (which sucks, believe me). The lowest price thing is true to some extent – we use an automated system that determines price normally, so we just scan the product and corporate tells us the price to set it at. Thats on clearance items. But we can also change the price to whatever we see fit, both with ticketing, setting prices in the system, and ringing an item up, so you aren’t fully correct in your post.

    The rain check trick is actually legit, though if you go to a bitchy sales rep they won’t help you out much. Like, say the rain check is for a 32inch TV, you can only get another 32inch TV. If the original item is an LCD TV, you can’t get a CRT / DLP / Plasma TV, only LCD. Sometimes they even factor in a price range that you can substitute for. Your best bet is to just take the new item and rain check to the kid who is making minimum wage and doesn’t care if Target loses a few bucks =p

  28. acceptablerisk says:

    Oh I didn’t really mean for it to apply to clearance merchandise. For one, they won’t issue rainchecks for clearance items. I was referring to regular sale items. Sorry if I wasn’t clear enough.

  29. edjusted says:

    I happened to be at Target yesterday after reading this, and I’m not sure it works, at least not consistently. There were lots of “regularly priced stuff” that ended with different numbers, even 1 and 2. Or maybe this *only* applies to sale items? Those seem to be all over the place too…

  30. wherery says:

    Thank you, I love this kind of information.

  31. helpfulgirl says:

    Hey guys – just another string of nonsense to tack on to the end here – I also work at Target! Almost everything her is accurate, but there are a few other tidbits. Consumable items, furniture, and electronics are generally the only things that go 15%. Seasonal items, for instance anything that is branded with a holiday oriented label, back to school, or summertime theme are the only items that go to 90%. These items start at 30% and progress to 90% usually within 2 weeks time. They are not individually marked, they all take the same percentage at the same time. Each department has a specific day that the price change team marks it down with the set items that are automatically loaded into the store’s system by corporate. For instance, children’s clothes on Monday, shoes on Thursday, etc. Item will remain at a percentage off for usually two weeks before progressing to the next level. Yes, usually prices go end in a 9 but there are plenty of instances where they don’t so that’s not really true. Items that come in a pack that are missing a few – socks, pencils, etc. also get marked down as they are found everyday and that pricing structure is also different. Consumable national brand items -Pampers, Cheerios, Dawn, etc. get a comp shop price! Market research with local competitors (like the evil Wal-Mart) is done to stay competitive without doing individual price matching, which is not a store policy. I hope this has helped somewhat!

  32. taylorlightfoot says:

    This isn’t true, Target marks items down with percentages. 15, 30, 50, 75 & 90

    The number in the top right corner says the percent off the regular price.

    After 90% they are clearanced down to $0, at which point they are defected as salvage and sold in bulk or donated to various thrift stores.

  33. Anonymous says:

    If you’re interested, you can read “The Ultimate Guide to Target Clearance Deals” over at for some good info on Target Clearance.