I’ve been known to make a Target clearance run on the weekends — just going from Target to Target and only shopping the clearance shelves. (Yes, I lead a very full life. Thank you very much.) Admittedly, I’ve found some of my best deals at Target. (I’ve never been a “Walmart person”, but many of my fellow bargain hunters tell me you can find great deals there, too.) If you’re unfamiliar with clearance at the bulls-eye retailer, you need to start looking for the red-orange tags. Clearance starts at 15% off and progresses up to 90% — with intervals at 30%, 50% and 70%. (Every now and then, I find items at 85% off. However, it’s rare to find items at 90% off, with the exception of seasonal merchandise. If you do, go crazy and fill your cart because you’re not going to find a better deal.) You can tell the markdown interval because it’s reflected on the upper-right hand corner of the tag — you’ll see a tiny 15, 30, 50, 70 or 90. Clearance is usually located on end caps, but can also be found in the aisles on occasion. Over the years, I have found a trick that I’ve kept to myself until now…
My best tip for shopping Target clearance is to never assume the price tag is correct — always scan the item at one of the self scanners throughout the store. More often than not, I find that the discount is greater than what it’s tagged. (You’d be surprised at the number of items I’ve found at 70% off.) Let’s admit it, most people are lazy and assume the clearance tag is correct. That’s where going the extra mile (or, in this case, a few extra steps) really pays off. (Unfortunately, clearance prices vary by store — just because an item is 50% off, for example, at one location doesn’t mean it will be the same at the location a few miles away.)
There are many theories out there on the Internet about Target’s markdown schedule regarding the days of the week when certain departments get discounted. However, I’ve never found any of it to be true. There are too many factors that determine markdowns, including market area, unsold stock and manager discretion. As a result, it’s very tricky to narrow down an exact policy. (And, of course, Target is totally mum on the subject.)
From my shopping experience, what seems to be true is that Target increases the discount on unsold clearance merchandise every two weeks. (However, don’t assume the next markdown will go to the next percentage interval — say, from 30% to 50%. I have seen many instances where markdowns jump an interval, from 30% to 70%, as an example, for those items they need to get rid of quickly.)
If you’re a “clearance hawk” and watching a big-ticket item closely, I suggest going back every 7 to 10 days to check, if it’s been marked down again. (I don’t think it’s worth the time and energy to keep checking on small items, unless I happen to be in the store.) It’s a bit of a gamble, as other smart shoppers may be watching the same item. You just have to know your budget and what you’re willing to pay bottom line.
From my knowledge, if a clearance item goes unsold, it’s salvaged and headed to the local Goodwill. However, I’ve noticed that many of the items cost more at Goodwill than its lowest price on the Target shelf.
Finally, bargain hunters all know this tip — you can use manufacturer’s coupons on top of clearance prices for maximum savings. When you combine 70% off with a coupon, you can often get items at bottom-of-the-barrel prices. I have bought so many grooming and grocery items for under 50¢ each at Target, thanks to “double-dipping.” (I had to stop my clearance runs for awhile because I was running out of space for all of my bargains!)
Have you ever found a great clearance deal at Target?
I look forward to our next chat. And, remember, there’s always a deal, you just need to look for it. :-)