Tips for Shopping Clearance at Target


Want a deal on a Dyson, a jogging stroller, or a rug? What if I told you that it could be on sale at your local Target for 75% off, and there is little chance anyone else knows about it? In addition to the fantastic finds on the end caps of most aisles of your local Target store, there are fabulous hidden deals to be had for those of us who really want them.

Save Big Money – Target has a crazy system of marking down their merchandise. Those that are familiar can get some really great deals before anyone else even knows that they are on sale. Clearance items at Target are usually marked with a red sticker in the upper right-hand corner of the packaging. Sometimes, however, the stickers don’t display the full discount, or there may be no sticker at all.

Secret Deals – Regular Target deal hunters know that it can really be a hit or miss type of deal. Some parts of the country have fantastic deals on high-end items, with no hint of the discount from their sticker price. Other areas never mark these same items down. The only way to really know if an item is on “secret clearance” is to scan it, made handy by the self-scanning stations placed throughout most stores. In order to get an idea of what might be on secret clearance, it is often necessary to browse message boards and web forums of those shoppers that do this regularly. (For a great resource for getting awesome Target deals, do a search for “Target Perimeter Perusing” and see what you may find!)

Daily Markdowns – In addition to the odd lot items that may be lurking among the regular merchandise and could be haphazardly stashed at the end caps, Target has a system for marking down their merchandise weekly:

Monday – Electronics, Kids Clothing and Stationary (Cards, GiftWrap, etc.)
Tuesday – Domestics, Women’s Clothing, Pets and Market (food items)
Wednesday – Men’s Clothing, Toys, Lawn & Garden, Health and Beauty
Thursday – House Wares, Lingerie, Sporting Goods, Shoes, Music / Movies, Books, Decor and Luggage
Friday – Auto, Cosmetics, Hardware, and Jewelry

By closely following the markdown schedule, and hitting the stores early in the morning, it is possible to get what you want before anyone else knows about it. (We often hit the food items on Tuesday morning and come home with armloads of canned goods, boxed dinner kits, and gourmet juices for pennies!)

Holiday Deals – Target participates in a generous markdown after major holidays, as well. Clothing is at a fabulous price during their after-holiday clearance, with many Valentines or Independence Day t-shirts for under a buck. (By picking some generic prints and designs, they can be worn year-round.) Their holiday markdown schedule is usually as follows (with the exception of Christmas, which can vary):

50% off the day after holiday for three days
75% off the fourth day after holiday for three days
90% off the seventh day after holiday for 1-2 days.

Some additional points to note about Target shopping:

If you find an item at 75% off, and you want it, don’t let it get away! They rarely mark down non-holiday items below this discount.

If it the price ends in the number 4, you may be looking at your last chance to buy.

Check to be sure that an item marked “As Is” is worth purchasing. I have been duped on a few occasions by unscrupulous customers who opened a package and swapped out the contents with a knock-off or broken merchandise. Target will not honor returns on “As Is” merchandise. That being said, I have also gotten some great deals on a Graco Pack N’ Play and a car seat simply because they were ordered online and returned to the store. There may not be anything wrong with the item at all!

Don’t buy just to buy. Unless you are planning on reselling merchandise, or need the item anyway, don’t get tempted into buying for the thrill of it. Every penny you spend is that much more work you will have to do to earn it back. Play the game, but don’t lose at it.

The Target shopping game can be very competitive, and there will be others out there trying to get the same deals as you. Get there early, get what you want, and get out. You’ll save a bundle, and maybe even have some fun!


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