Sunday, July 5, 2020
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Retail Secrets Hidden in Plain Sight

There truly is no better way to hide things than in plain sight. Magicians do it all the time. They make you look at their waving hands or concentrate on a piece of paper while they stealthily trick you.

Take a look at the FedEx logo.

I’m sure you’ve seen it a gazillion times, but have you ever noticed the hidden symbol? It’s hidden in plain sight.

Take a closer look at the spaces between the letters.  Did you spot the hidden symbol yet?

Look at the white space between the ‘E’ and the ‘x’. It’s a white arrow and the logo designer put it there on purpose. The FedEx logo was designed in 1994 by Lindon Leader of Leader Creative. The designer consciously put the white arrow in the design to subtly convey speed and efficiency.

It’s easy to spot now that you know it’s there. Sometimes things are hidden in plain sight. A ton of companies do things like this. They hide messages and meanings right in front of our very eyes. If you know what to look for you can catch the meaning.

Retailers love to pull this trick with their prices. They hide deals and codes in plain sight of their customers.  Costco and Target are two of my favorites.

You can tell when you are getting a good deal at Costco by paying attention to the last number in the price. For the most part, regularly priced items end in $0.99. So if you see an item for $24.99 or $7.99 you can be pretty sure that price is the original one.

When you see a price sign at Costco that ends with $0.97, you have found a deal. Any time an item ends in $.97 it means it’s been marked down.  When you see an item with this price you usually won’t find the original price marked on the signs with a slash through it like you do in most other stores. Costco doesn’t want you to figure out their pricing strategy so they leave off the original price in these instances. But rest assured if you see an item that ends with $0.97 the price has been slashed and you are getting a deal! Stock up if you are in need of that item.

You may also see prices at Costco that do not end in $0.99 or $0.97. Odd prices that end in $0.89, $0.79, and $0.49 mean the merchandise has been marked down too. Items that are priced like these signal that Costco got a special deal from the manufacturer and they are passing the savings on to you. Usually items priced like these are good deals, especially compared to other retailers, but they are not as good of a deal as one that ends in $0.97.

Another pricing trick Costco hides right in front of your face is when an item is being discontinued. If the shelf tag has an asterisk (*) in the upper right hand corner, you know the item won’t be reordered. Whatever Costco has in stock is it and will not be replaced. Probably the item will be marked down if it’s been on the shelves for a few months, but not always. So if there are only a few of an item left but the price ends in a $0.99, you know the item has not been marked down and will not be seen again–at least not until next season. If you need an item and the shelf tag has an asterisk in the upper right corner, then buy what you need then and there; don’t wait for a price reduction that may not come in time.

The good news is that Costco has a 30 day price guarantee. So if you buy an item and see it at a lower price anytime in the following 30 days, you can bring back your receipt and be credited for the difference in price. This way you never get left out of a good deal!

Target has similar pricing secrets that they love to hide in plain sight. There is a lot of information that can be found on their clearance stickers that can help you determine if you are getting the best deal.

Next time you go to Target look at their clearance tags. The price in the bottom left hand corner is the item’s original price. The price in the upper right hand corner is the percentage the item is marked down by.


In the picture you can see it reads 50. Most of the time you will see a 15, 30, 50, 70, 75 or 90 listed in the upper right hand corner. These are Target’s standard percentages off. Although I should note that food, furniture and electronics usually don’t get marked down by more than 15 percent ever.

Target doesn’t just hide their pricing secrets on clearance stickers; you can tell if you are getting a deal on regular price tags too. Regular prices at Target always end in a 9, like $7.99 or $12.89 or $24.79. If you see a price tag like this you know that an item has not been marked down, it is at its original price.

If you see a price that ends in something other than a 9, you know an item’s price has been reduced. Prices that end in an 8 have been marked down, but are slated to be reduced again in the future.

Prices that end in a 4 are the best deals though. If you see a price ending like $19.54, $7.44 or $54.54, then you know that’s the lowest it will go. Stock up on an item if you see a price ending in a 4 because it won’t get any cheaper!

What happens though when you see a price that ends in an 8? You don’t necessarily want to buy that item because you know the price will be reduced sometime in the future. Well don’t worry because Target has a mark down schedule they stick to! About every two weeks, Target marks down an item. Now you know when you should go back to buy that item. No more wasting time checking back on random days to see if an item you want is at its lowest price!

Target’s Mark Down Schedule

Monday: Children’s clothing, baby items, electronics, office supplies, wrapping paper and stationery

Tuesday: Women’s clothing, home decor and domestic items?

Wednesday: Men’s clothing, toys, food, health and beauty, garden items

Thursday: Housewares, lingerie, shoes, sporting goods, luggage?

Friday: Cosmetics, jewelry, hardware, automotive, and home improvement

The more you know, the more you save. You just have to be able to decipher the information retailers like Target and Costco are hiding in plain sight. Knowing the codes and clues to look for will help you get the best deal possible. I bet you’ll never look at a price tag the same way again! Or the FedEx logo!

Keeping Money in Your Pocket,

Nancy Patterson

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