— -- Back to school shopping is in full swing and shoppers like to know they are getting the best deals.
“GMA” Investigates connected with shopping guru Kyle James of Rather-Be-Shopping.com.
James’ website is devoted to online coupons, and he says he’s uncovered pricing patterns at 14 national chains and counting.
Using hidden cameras, "GMA" Investigates and James went bargain hunting and he shared his tips.
How to Spot the Deals
To spot savings in places you’d never think to look, check the price tag, he said. Shopping codes are embedded in price tags at some of the nation's most popular retailers, he said. Those codes can help consumers know when and how to spot a good deal.
On our first stop, at Home Depot, James says sometimes the secret codes to savings are color coded.
James said a yellow tag represents a clearance product.
He added that, at many stores, the key to savings can be found in the last two digits of the price.
'You're Not Supposed to Know That'
At Home Depot, he says, prices ending in .06 mean there will be six weeks until the next markdown. Prices ending in ending in .03 mean three weeks until markdown -- the chain's best deal
James turned to the store employees for confirmation of his secret code cracking.
“That’s insider stuff,” the employee said. “You’re not supposed to know that.”
Speaking in silhouette, another employee shared another store secret from Home Depot, saying sometimes prices are adjustable if there’s a customer service issue.
“Every employee has up to a $50 adjustment that they are eligible to give to a customer if it’s warranted,” the employee said.
Our next stop was Target. At this chain, prices ending in .98, .88, .04 and .24 indicate clearance items, James said.
To know how much you’re saving there, however, you may need a magnifying glass. James pointed at the price tag on a pair of shoes, saying the small number in the upper right corner indicated the percentage by which the item had been originally discounted.
If Target has a lot of product inventory, chances are that the prices will drop even more, James added.
So how long should a shopper wait?
“The employee told me they mark them down every 10 to 14 days,” James said.
One possible reason for such pricing codes is that it makes it easier for employees when they’re stocking shelves, James said.
At Costco, we were on the hunt for flat screen TVs.
According to James, items ending in .99 are full price, while items ending in .97 have been marked down. Items that end in .97 and which have an asterisk in the corner are clearance items, James added.
“GMA” Investigates reached out to the stores in this story for a response to James’ tips.
Target said the “ending digit of a clearance price is determined by several factors…. It is not possible to determine the final markdown or timing of the price change … .”
Home Depot and Costco both said they do not discuss details of their pricing systems.