Bargain shoppers are always looking for creative ways to get the best deals. And although warehouse clubs like Sam’s Club don’t put their products on sale all too often, they still use pricing discounts to clear out their inventory when they need to make space for new arrivals. After all, stocking one item at Sam’s Club takes up a whole pallet’s worth of space, so seasonal and underselling products need to be rotated out regularly to make room for new products.
Sam’s Club uses five code letters – N, A, C, S, and O – to mark the status of products on their floors. These codes can let you know if you need to stock up on one of your favorite products before it gets rotated out. They can also give you a clue as to whether an item is likely to be marked down in the near future, if it isn’t already, which can help you save lots of money on clearance products.
First, it’s worth pointing out the worst-kept secret in the Sam’s Club pricing strategy – the penny prices. If you see a product (with any code) that has a price ending in one cent, like $24.91, that item is discount-priced for clearance. Items that have penny prices will be gone, whether seasonally or for good, once their stock runs out, so stock up while you can!
N – Never Out
The price code that indicates the most permanence on Sam’s Club’s shelves is N, standing for Never Out. These products are staples of Sam’s Club and are all but guaranteed to stay on shelves and not be marked down. Think of products like store brand frozen meat and canned vegetables – these items will always be available on Sam’s Club’s shelves.
A – Active
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There are fewer products labeled as N than you might think. The vast majority of the products in Sam’s Club are labeled with an A, for Active. Sam’s Club plans to have these products in stock for the foreseeable future, so while you shouldn’t expect them to be marked down, the plus side is that you can expect that these popular products will remain in your Sam’s Club store for the long haul.
C – Clearance
The code C, meaning Clearance, is where things start to get interesting. Being marked as C doesn’t necessarily mean the price has been discounted – it just means the store has selected the product to be removed from shelves once it sells out, to make room for something else. It may not already be priced to clear when it’s marked C, but if it doesn’t sell out soon, it will be.
Note that not all sales at Sam's Club are clearance sales. Some of Sam’s Club’s sales are just promotions to attract shoppers. But if a product you want is marked C, you may want to go ahead and stock up because it won’t be around for long. On the other hand, if you keep an eye on it, you might eventually find it marked down to a penny price to clear out the remaining inventory to make room for new products.
S – Seasonal
The code S, meaning Seasonal, means the product was only ever intended to be stocked for a limited time. Think of products like hot cocoa in the winter and fruity drinks in the summer – with the limited amount of space in the store, Sam’s Club only stocks certain products at those times they’re likely to sell. Because these products will be rotated out at a predetermined time, they are unlikely to have their label changed from S to C. If you’re looking for bargains, keep an eye on products marked S, because if they aren’t gone by season’s end, they’ll soon be priced to move!
O – One Time Buy
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There are lots of products in Sam’s Club that are here one day and gone the next. You may find these products marked “Limited Time Only” or “Rotation Item – One Time Buy.” Some products are only produced for a limited time by the manufacturer, and other products may presumably be trial products that the store is testing to see how well they sell. Whatever the case, these products will be gone once the units on the pallet are sold. These products may turn out to be popular enough to sell out quickly at full price. But it’s possible that these One Time Buy products don’t sell out before the store needs the space for a new product, so they will eventually be marked down. Keep an eye on One Time Buy products for some great deals!
So take note of these price codes while you’re shopping at Sam’s Club. If you see something you like with the code C, S, or O, you may want to grab it before it’s gone. But if you’re willing to risk the wait, those products might soon be marked down if there’s still some around when the store needs the space for new products. For products labeled N and A, don’t count on clearance discounts anytime soon. Just check your monthly Instant Savings Book for promotions!