What This Secret Symbol On Costco Price Tags Really Means

The big-box chain Costco has become a mecca of sorts for discount-seeking shoppers around the globe. Members of the club flock to Costco for discounts on everything from groceries, to medication, to electronics, to their famously affordable $1.50 hot dog combo. And of course, no trip to the warehouse store would be complete without a round of complimentary samples offered at the ends of the aisles.

Over the years, savvy frugal fans of the retailer have accumulated various tips and tricks for how to get the best prices at the warehouse chain. These range from checking the specific numbers on the price tags (if the price ends with .97, you know it's a national markdown), to keeping an eye out for price changes in recently purchased products (the chain will give you cash back up to 14 days after purchase if the price drops).

And, as some eagle-eyed shoppers have noted, Costco also gives customers a subtle heads-up when their products will be leaving shelves. While many of Costco's most perpetually popular items — from Kirkland bacon to rotisserie chicken — are all but guaranteed to stay in stock year-round, other products marked with one specific symbol may be leaving the store for good.

If you see this symbol on your favorite items, you should stock up

According to discount blogger The Krazy Coupon Lady, Costco offers customers a heads up on products that won't be restocked, if you know what to look for. Products that will soon be leaving shelves — not to be restocked any time soon — are indicated with an asterisk symbol on the upper right corner of the price tag.

While the asterisk lets shoppers know that the item isn't being restocked, it doesn't necessarily mean the item is gone from stores for good. Costco rotates the stock of many items throughout the year to keep prices lower and offer new and seasonal items that are available for a limited time only (via Taste of Home). However, the big box store could potentially bring an item back in the future, even if it temporarily goes out of stock.

Still, there's no guarantee that your favorite limited time products leaving stores will ever be brought back in stock, so when you see that asterisk it's best to stock up now or regret it later.

What all the different prices mean

We know that price tags ending in .97 indicate a national markdown, but if you're looking for extra savings there are other price tags to look out for. Business Insider spoke with more than three dozen Costco workers and consulted sites dedicated to the chain such as Costco.97 about how to spot deals. A price that ends with .00 or .88 may indicate a manager discount. These items are often floor models or customer-returned items, and while they could be a great buy, they should be closely inspected before purchase to make sure they're not damaged. CostContessa editor Marie Clark told The Kitchn, "You tend to see the .00 price tags on clothing."

Any item that is considered Costco's standard price will end in .99. Since Costco's savings are already included in the prices, this means the item may not be on sale. This also applies to wine. While most wine shops might mark up bottles by as much as 50%, Costco items see a markup of about 14%, so any bottle could be a better deal than you'll find at other stores.

Another key thing to keep an eye on is the price tag's date. Even clearance items could be reduced to a lower price if many pieces are still on the shelf. If the date hasn't been updated in a while and there's still plenty left, it's likely to be marked down even further soon.

The colors on the price tag speak volumes

Costco is always trying to find ways to attract new customers as well as keep the ones they have. With an increased interest in foods labeled as natural or organic, Costco has increased its offerings. It offers many different kinds of antibiotic-free and all-natural meats. Over the years the brand has become a top seller of organic products. So it would make sense to have a clear label to identify those highly valued items. Those looking for organic simply have to search for the green tags. Non-organic items generally have white tags.

But even with a seemingly clear distinction between food types, don't be surprised if you find some organic items with white tags. "Not 100 percent of Costco's organic stuff gets flagged as organic, but they do try, and most of the organic items will have a green tag," Marie Clark, the editor of Costco-focused CostContessa, explained to The Kitchn.