Episode 3: April 22, 2010
Today, we’ll be sharing the details behind getting fabulous deals at shopping mecca Target. Be prepared to hear how you can save 75% or more on stuff you buy every day.
Why Shop at Target?
If you haven’t shopped the retail giant lately, a lot has changed -- and it’s all very positive. A consistent and shopper-friendly coupon policy leaves Target one of the few remaining stores to honor internet-printed coupons (which can be found at the Target.com site and other coupon generators, like RedPlum.com), Usually, the cashiers don’t bat an eye at hard-core frugal customers like myself. Since Target is well-known for featuring the newest products, designs, and trends, it creates a fantastic opportunity for those of us who shop many times throughout a season, and it is especially valuable for those who like to shop an entire year in advance. In this podcast I’ll tell you what you should know about how most Target stores mark down their merchandise. This knowledge can save you big.
How Can You Find Sale Items at Target?
Fortunately for customers, Target has one of the best systems for marking down merchandise and then letting shoppers know it’s on sale. Most Target stores stash their sale items on the endcaps of the outer aisles, so the sale items are easy to see. Most of these items are at a markdown of 15% or more and the entire shelf is marked as “Clearance.” In addition, most marked-down items will have a bright orangey-red sticker in the upper right-hand corner of the packaging. It will show either the original price or the last markdown and the current price. It will be easy to see just how much of a discount you are getting by looking at the product itself.
Target generally also has more in-store scanning stations than any store. Just take a look around for bright red check-your-price signs. You can bring your merchandise to any of them to scan the UPC code on the package. You can find out right away if the price on the package is correct, and what you can expect to be charged at the checkout line.
When Can You Get the Best Deals at Target?
Do you know when cookies are most likely to go on clearance at your local Target? How about High-Definition TVs? Knowing the weekly markdown schedule is key to getting into the store early and grabbing a great deal on merchandise before it’s all gone. For the most part, Target follows this weekly schedule to begin markdowns of 15% or more:
Monday markdowns include electronics, kid’s clothing, and stationery (which includes giftwrap, cards, and partyware).
Tuesday is the day for saving on domestics, women’s clothing, pet supplies, and food.
Wednesday is when the men’s clothing, toys, lawn & garden, and health & beauty items are clearanced out.
Thursday sale items usually include housewares, lingerie, sporting goods, shoes, music/movies/books, décor, and luggage
Finally, Friday is the day you will want to shop for automotive items, cosmetics, hardware, and jewelry.
There has been a bit of dispute over whether the weekly markdown schedule is set in stone. Most stores I frequent follow it like clockwork, and shoppers nationwide have reported that their local stores follow it, as well. Could a store decide to change the schedule at any time? Sure. Have I seen it yet? No. Likewise, it’s also unusual to see the time of day that the markdowns occur to fluctuate too much, either. Stores in my area usually have most markdowns done by noon. So all of those eager bargain shoppers should plan to hit the store around 12 in the afternoon.
How Low Will Target Prices Go?
When should you buy a clearanced product and when should you hold out in the hopes that the price will drop even lower? It depends. Generally, you will want to scoop up any item you really want if it is at 75% off and still available in the store. (If someone else doesn’t buy it, you’re in luck!) Once in a while, however, an item may go as low as 90% off. These are unique opportunities to get something for just about nothing, and they most likely to happen to seasonal items, like holiday-themed clothing and decor. To be absolutely certain that an item isn’t going to go any lower, check the price. Hardcore Target shoppers insist that if the price ends in the number 4, it’s your last chance to buy.
Target’s Holiday Markdowns
There’s a method to Target’s holiday markdown madness too, and if you follow your calendar closely, you can hedge your bets on waiting out the merchandise until it gets ridiculously cheap. With the exception of Christmas, most holidays follow this schedule:
50% off the day after the holiday and an additional three days
75% off the fourth day after the holiday and an additional three days
90% off the seventh day after the holiday and an additional 1-2 days
So if you’re waiting for a particular item to get down to a certain price, now you know when to go. But be careful! Attempting to “wait out” merchandise until it gets cheap enough is a good way to lose out completely. Remember that there are other shoppers looking to score items for well under retail value, as well. It’s best to pay a little more than to lose out completely--especially if it’s something you really want.
Extra Tips You Need to Know
Think you have everything you need to hit your local Target and save some cash? Here are a few final tips for helping you along:
Be wary of items marked “As Is.” These items are usually sold alongside the regular clearance items, and they can look like any other packaged good. They could have nothing wrong with them at all, or they could be in horrible shape. If the package has already been opened, see if you can get a good look at the item inside. If it is something that could be unsafe to use (like food or health items), it might be best to let it be. Other times, people return merchandise that they have purchased, and it’s still in excellent condition. These are the best things to buy “As Is.” Use discretion in any case.
Listen to other shoppers. Sometimes items will be marked down very low and NOT be labeled or placed in the clearance section. These have either not had a chance to be marked, or through some oversight, won’t be. Even if a certain deal isn’t advertised, but you hear from a fellow shopper about a Target store offering a vacuum, for example, on 50% savings, see if it’s at your store. With a quick scan at the price check station, you might be looking at a great deal -- with or without the matching red price tag to tip you off.
Don’t Forget your coupons! Target is wonderful about allowing their clearance merchandise to be purchase with coupons. If you have coupons for the same brand of cookie that is marked down 75% on the fourth day after Easter, you’re looking at some very cheap cookies!
Once you get to know your local Target store, it’s just a matter of time before you’re getting the very best deals. Remember to buy only what you truly want or need in order to be a true Dealista!
This has been an episode of Dealista’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Getting More for Less, brought to you by Wise Bread, a personal finance blog that helps you live large on a small budget.
Until next time!