Did you know the final two digits in Costco price tags contain a secret code? When we saw this claim, our “internet hoax” alarm started blaring. (That and we’ve watched the movie A Christmas Story one too many times to trust decoder rings.) So we headed to our favorite debunker of urban legends, Snopes.com, and, sure enough, there’s truth to this claim (although a similar claim about Target price tags is false).

As we know many small businesses use Costco as a wholesale source for products and supplies (thus, the word “wholesale” in their name), we created the graphic below you can print out and keep or screen grab and have on your smartphone.

(Under the graphic, we’ve repeated the information in a text format.)


[You have permission to reproduce or reuse this graphic in any way as long as you credit it with a link to this post. (Creative Commons – CC by 2.0)]

Here are what the price tags mean:

  • Price ending in .99 – full retail price.
  • Price ending in .49 or .79 – manufacturer’s special offer. Products doing trial runs and are likely priced lower than their normal retail price will be.
  • Price ending in .97 – deals in the local store only. Often amazing discounts.
  • Price ending in .00 – Clearance item.
  • An asterisk indicates that the item won’t be restocked. Sometimes that means Costco couldn’t get the same product at the same purchase price, or it didn’t sell very well, or a repackaging is coming.

(via: Snopes.com)

Illustration by SmallBusiness.com from the film, A Christmas Story. Scene: Ralph receives his much anticipated decoder ring from which he learns the secret message to (spoiler alert) drink his Ovaltine.

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