Dear Target,

I love you. I really do. I adore your wide aisles, your children’s clothes and shoes, your lack of Walmartian bedlam, your maternity camisoles that actually go over a pregnant belly unlike Motherhood Maternity’s which don’t make it past a gestating ribcage, your pleasingly geometric notebooks and bedspreads and various other pretty things, your Starbucks in every store, and your selection of chocolate.


Even though all those rumors of you being a French company are false, it seems that you don’t understand the English Language. Or at least with the same breadth and detail as us consumers.

Clearance. What does the word mean to you? To us, and by us I mean all humans, we hear “clear” which means that you’re trying to get rid of an item – perhaps seasonal, perhaps not popular, perhaps discontinued.

Clearing out unwanted inventory is something we like being a part of. But only when properly motivated.

And so, “clearance” better mean “50% off or more.”

Target Clearance

That’s right, Target. 15% off is NEVER clearance. It’s barely enough to make me consider getting something I do need, let alone something I don’t.

You need to take a moment to recognize that Publix routinely marks regular products down to “Buy One Get One Free”, or effectively 50% off, and doesn’t even make a big deal about it.

Every. Single. Day.

I know, right? I bet you need a diaper just thinking about it. Clearance – 15% off.

Too bad for you they’re not *really* on sale.

Publix has opened Oz’s curtain for us – we now know that you big retailers are capable of charging us half as much and still making money.

And you need to quit lying to us.

So. For you and for all of your retail friends, here is a helpful glossary.

Good Deal: You have my permission to use this term when your regular price beats over half of your competitor’s prices. I appreciate you letting me know about your good deals and I will reward you accordingly. However, you need to know that this term alerts me to the fact that you may never have this item on sale, so I might watch for it in your competitor’s sale papers.
Other acceptable terms: Everyday low price, everyday values.

Reduced: You may use this term when you’ve lowered your prices by ten cents or more. Don’t use it on a penny – we’ll see that and Instagram your ridiculousness in a hot second. And just so you know, 15% off definitely falls under the “Reduced” category – so invest in more Reduced signs and less Clearance signs.
Other acceptable terms: markdown, price reduction.

Coupon: DO NOT print me a coupon at the register for 25¢ off six cans of dog food. First of all I don’t have a dog and second of all if I did I wouldn’t, couldn’t, would rather die before keeping up with a piece of paper for two weeks that will save me 4.17 cents off of each item. I could pick up that much money in the parking lot if I needed it.

Here’s the coupon guideline. If it’s under a dollar, I won’t ever use it. And really if I’m being honest, if it’s under five dollars, I’ll probably forget I have it. Okay – if you really want me to use your stupid coupon it better be fifty dollars off a product that costs ten.

Sale: To be officially recognized as a sale, the item in question must be at least 25% off. NO EXCEPTIONS. 24% off is simply a markdown – don’t try to fleece us. Sale also inherently implies that it will be off-sale at some point in the future, so if that is not the case, you may call it a Permanent Markdown – just because the price is permanent does not a clearance make.

Clearance: Using the term “Clearance” for less than 50% off is like calling a bumblebee honey – it’s WRONG, and I get really upset if I accidentally bite. Half off is the absolute MINIMUM, guys. When you find yourselves starting to falter on this issue, just remember Publix. BOGO every day.

Speaking of,

BOGO: BOGO stands for “Buy one, get one free.” It does NOT stand for “Buy one, get one half off” or “Buy one, get one 25% off” or “Buy One Get this other random piece of crap for free.” If you break this sacred rule, then I will never be your friend.

Blowout: A blowout must be 75% off or more (unless we’re talking about the hair process, in which case it’s a stupid name.) Blowout implies “this is the best deal you’ll ever find on this product.” And, as I’m a good deal finder, you better work for it. 90% off is preferred.

Event: Ain’t nobody got time for events, unless you’re giving away free stuff. And it better be an entire cart of free stuff. So if you’re gonna have a Tampon Event and I read your fine print that tampons are 20% off and THAT’S what you’re calling an event, I’m gonna sic all my Event Planner friends on your PR people. And Event Planners are a group of humans that are not fun when they’re indignant – take my word for it.

There. That’s not too hard to follow, is it?


I’ll be practicing my calm breathing until you fix it.

31 thoughts on “Slightly Off Target.

  1. Amen! I hate the concept of clearance at Target! I’m hoping somewhere, someone you know will forward this to Target corporation. They need to realize we are not stupid shoppers that fall for the flashy red stickers and instantly put the item in the cart without calculating the actually money saved. Another pet peeve of mine? I’m not sure if you have an Art Van furniture in your area, but here in the north we do, and EVERY single week they have the Biggest Sale ever! I’m really get tired of seeing those commercials, and honestly don’t even shop there on the principal that I know I will never get a decent deal.

  2. Amen, sister! There is no way in this world I’m going to look at anything you’ve put on “clearance” at only 15% off. When I go to Target, I head directly for the 70% off rack in the women’s department. If I don’t find anything there, I *might* look at the less-reduced racks, but probably not.

  3. I worked at Target for about 6 months between “real” jobs — the employee discount is only 10%. While there are good things about working there, you can’t say they’re overly generous with the discounts for anyone.

  4. Thank you, Rachel! Target has needed a little help in the vocabulary department for quite awhile. Nothing brings me down like finding 15% off marked as clearance or chintzy coupons. I think there should be a law against coupons less than 50¢. I always shake my head when I see the coupons for $1 off 24 cans of cat food in the Sunday paper. Who actually uses those?

  5. YES! Also, Target is like the Nazis of the return world. Heaven help you if you have the audacity to try to return something to them *gasp* without a receipt.

  6. I’ve never had trouble with returns to target since they can look up your purchase by the card you paid with. Employee discount IS only 10%, but that at least makes it so you dont pay tax and if you combine it with cartwheel and the red card discount it doesnt seem too bad. I agree that 15% off is NOT clearance! And their sales that are just 5% off whatever category are a joke…unless of course there is something I have really been wanting and then can tell my husband, hey it’s on sale! 90% off doesn’t happen any more because it doesnt benefit Target in any way. It is worth more to them to trash the products at that point.

  7. I’m so with you! $.05 off is not clearance in my book either! I was just there today and saw a shelf like this! Whoo hoo $.07 off some toothpaste!

  8. Agreed!! I got kind of excited when I saw the end cap of diapers on “clearance” the other day, only to walk up to them, see the price, and promptly walk away.. Um, “clearance” not so much. (But, I can’t believe how easily I can spend $50 in Target when I went in to get ‘just one thing’.). :)

  9. Ooo, you shouldn’t have gotten me started. I have 4 kids. The only way to keep these kids in clothes is shop clearance. People talk about the ‘great deals on kids clothes’ at Target. You know what I find on the Clearance rack? $14.98 marked down to $12.98. I wouldn’t even pay that for myself of the clearance rack! Tried to return gifts that were clearly from Target without a gift receipt and was told I couldn’t even return them. Saw an add for Thomas the Tank Engine shoes (my 3yo would probably potty train for these[he is also a Noah that is 2mo older than yours]) but you had to get them in store, they were only in select cities and you need to use the cartwheel app. Well, I’m super frugal and don’t have a smartphone. Guess what? Chartwheel deals are only available with a smartphone. I really like some of Target’s items and styles, but they do make me angry trying to act like they have great deals.

  10. Amen! I hope Target reads this and listens to your suggestions because it is our favorite store but the 5 cents off here and the 10 cents off there drives me NUTS! They used to have awesome clearance sections with 70-90% off but now you’re lucky if you can get a 50%. Oh and we have Starbucks “on every corner” here in the Northwest, but not in our Targets.

  11. Yes, yes, yes!!!! I LOVE Target (in fact, we’re going there in a few minutes), but I totally agree with you on clearance. My modus operandi at Target is to only look at the 50% off or more racks.

    And I think the word “blowout” should be banned from retail. Once you become a parent, the word “blowout” takes on a whole new meaning……

  12. And Old Navy is just as bad!! A “clearance” tag on a shirt that is only 50 cents less than original price?!? That’s not even worth the brain power to figure out what small percentage off that actually is.

  13. Their coupons drive me crazy!!! $.75 off when I buy 5 boxes of Rice a Roni??? Really?? That’s the best you got for me???

  14. Amen!!! Especially on the BOGO. My husband and I refer to Buy One Get One Half Off as BOGOHO. Politically correct? Maybe not. More accurate? Definitely.

  15. Thank you. I laughed so hard. Especially the coupons!! If that is not the truth of it…
    Can we be friends. I wear good jeans

  16. Just linked back to this one from the current shopping cart/mop bucket arrest craziness.

    I have on two separate occasions been browsing clearance aisles in Target and found clearance items actually marked UP. Like, on the little red clearance sticker, it says “was $3.49, now $3.99”. I feel somebody really doesn’t understand what clearance means.

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