SALE sign on four different bags.

What is a Sale Price? Discount Shopping Terms Explained

When going shopping you’ll see those red tags with a discounted price, or a bin with a big clearance sign over it. Sometimes the word sale isn’t used and it can get confusing. This raises the question, what is a sale price? Below is a short description of some of the words you should know when looking for a good deal.

Sale Price

bright red sale sign

This is a price after it has been lowered from the original price. A sale price is usually temporary. The price drop can vary from retailer to retailer and it goes back up after the time period has passed. Here are some of the reasons that result in a sale price:

The retailer wants to get you into the store | A tactic used is to set a sale price on something that people want just to get them into the store. Once you are in the store there is a good chance you will buy something else and you may also like the store and return again.

To get you to try the product | Many people won’t want to take the risk of trying a product at a regular price and this gives the opportunity to try it at a lower price.

To get impulse sales | If an item is on sale somebody may purchase the item just because of the price even though the intention to buy it wasn’t there when they entered the store. For example, you see batteries on sale and think to yourself I could keep those at home for my joystick when the current batteries run out.


Clearance sign with additional 40% off price. What is a sale price?

This is a price set when a store wants to get products out of the store, often unwanted inventory (items). This could mean extra inventory which is too much of the item in the store and they want it out. Perhaps they don’t want to take up room in their storage anymore.

It could also mean an item is out of season. In this case, the season has ended and the product is no longer required, it needs to be out of the store. For example, once summer is over not a lot of people are looking for shorts to wear.

Clearance prices are very noticeable when a store is going out of business. This is a good opportunity to buy low-cost items.

Be careful with clearance prices as they are often final sales. As sale prices will most likely go up clearance prices usually do not. Ask to make sure if there is a chance you will return the item.

New Low Price | Price Drop

brownn price drop sign with red writing

This is a permanent lower price than it has been previously. If a retailer has lowered the price and is going to leave it at that price then they will have this sign. This is not a sale price but a newly reduced permanent price on an item that will remain in inventory.


This term is used by Walmart in North America and it is considered a sale price. This is essentially telling us that the price has been rolled back to a price we may have never been paying before. Nobody seems to know how long rollback prices last, with varying opinions on them stating 4-10 weeks, but the term is essentially a sale price.


brown discount sale sign

Discounted items are items sold at a lower price than regular. This term can be used for a sale price, but there are also other ways it is applied. Sometimes discounted prices can have special terms and are provided at special times.

There are different discounted pricing tactics that companies use such as loyalty program discounts, and member discounts to name a couple.

Loyalty discounts can be provided in different ways such as a discount after spending a certain amount of money i.e. 10% off after spending $100.

Member discounts could mean that anybody with a special membership gets a discount (ex. executive member at Costco). This encourages more people to become part of the membership. Membership is usually a paid fee to join.

Coupon | Promo Code

A coupon is a voucher (small piece of paper with a code) that is given out to attract customers to a store or service. This voucher can be received through the mail, through an email, and often they are given out with previous purchases to get you to come back to the store.

With the coupon, you are entitled to the discount marked on the paper. Be careful to read the fine print. Often a coupon will only be valid under certain terms or within a certain time frame. An example is “spend $100 and get $10 off.”

A promo code is most often used in online purchases. Promo codes can be sent to your email or found online through various discount groups. These are codes that you input as you are checking out of an online purchase.

In-store purchases will sometimes give a promo code to influence you to shop online, a tactic that can work with great results. If you are shopping online always do a google search to see if there are any promo codes available, often you will find one in a forum or simply on your search browser.


These are usually seen on cars or expensive items but can be used for anything in retail, this stands for Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price (MSRP).

What this means is that the manufacturer (the company that made the product) sets a suggested price for everybody that sells their products. You will notice that companies may have the same price on an item as that’s what was suggested.

However, this does not mean that the price is fixed and that it must be sold at this price as a retailer can always lower the price. If the opportunity to bargain is there, don’t be afraid to do it even with an MSRP. If you are purchasing a car, negotiation is a normal and expected part of the process.


A refurbished item is an item that was brought back to the store and had to be re-packaged or could have been a display item. A refurbished item may have also been previously defective and returned under the warranty.

The manufacture takes these items back, fixes them, and then sells them at a discounted price. Be wary unless buying from a reputable dealer as these deals may not be so good in the long run and there may not be another warranty.

The question has always been whether or not to purchase a refurbished item. The price of these items can be very tempting but do know that they have most likely been fixed since they were new.

That being said, refurbished items go through a testing process to make sure they work before going back on store shelves. Manufacturers meet the same working conditions as a new item and these items also may come with a warranty if you buy from the original dealer.

Getting the Best Deals

red sale tags with percentage signs on them

Stores will use different terms for different purposes. The end goal is usually the same, get customers into the store and get them to purchase.

To save money it is best to know what you want or need in advance and then shop around for a sale price or wait for a discounted price to happen. Sales in many large stores happen weekly and some stores have bigger sales than others.

Find those stores, look for their flyer and wait for a discount to purchase. Many stores have clearance aisles or racks and you may find some good bargains there.

If you know what you are going to purchase it never hurts to go into the store to ask about the item. Questions like “will this go on sale soon?” can get you the answers you are looking for. A question like “what is the sale price” will get you the exact price of something discounted in-store.

Don’t be afraid to ask these questions. There will be many instances where something is reduced even further and hasn’t been marked yet. After all, what is a sale price for? To get items off the shelf.

Stores will also price-match another store or better yet beat the price. If you see the same item at another store on sale ask the store you are in if they will match. The worst they can say is no.

Whatever it is that you need or want, there’s a chance that it’s on sale somewhere so take the time to shop around either online or in person. If you can get yourself organized in advance, look around and wait for the perfect opportunity to save yourself some money.

By: Robert Puharich| February 14, 2021 |