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10 Things Target Employees Wish You Knew About Holiday Shopping

We talked to current and former Target employees for the scoop on what you should and shouldn't do while shopping this season.

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Target employees offer tips for the best holiday shopping experience

Shopping during the holiday season is stressful, no matter the store. Target is special, however, because there are so many shopping deals that are too good to miss. Make the most of your time at the store and with these tips from employees. Learn sneaky ways to save money at Target from the people who work there.

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Shop with a plan

It is so hard to pass up a good shopping deal at Target—and that’s by design. “The biggest mistake I see people make when shopping at Target during the holidays is falling for a deal they didn’t already have in mind,” says Derek Hales, founder of and former Target employee. It’s easy to give in to a deal that seems too good to be true, but remember that’s exactly what the store expects. You’ll end up staying on budget if you stick with your list, Hales notes. Target has plenty of ways to get you to spend more, too.

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Keep track of your receipts

Target has a very generous price-matching system, according to former Target executive team leader Lynda Peralta, founder of The Pocket Palette. If you buy something like a blanket, for example, and see that it goes on sale the following week, you can go back and get your price adjusted, Peralta says. And check competitors’ pricing for items you plan to buy from Target since they’ll price match almost any competitor.

Ever wondered what those big red spheres outside of Target are for?

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Two people in red looking over Christmas treesJULIO CORTEZ/AP/SHUTTERSTOCK

Avoid wearing red

Although you might be in the holiday spirit, opt for green or other clothes when you stop by your local Target. Former Target employee Becky Beach, creator of, says it’s common for people to confuse shoppers for employees if they wear the signature bright red Target color. Make things easier for yourself and others by wearing anything other than red. By the way, these are the things you should always buy at Target.

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Wednesdays and Fridays are the best shopping days

Arrive early on Wednesdays to get the best selection of inventory since shipments usually arrive at most stores on hump day, Beach says. Fridays are another ideal shopping day because new items often go on clearance. “It’s because it’s the end of the week, so what items that had been selling well will get reduced,” Beach says. You can also get deals by joining Target’s new loyalty program.

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Couple using laptop together on the couchRAWPIXEL.COM/SHUTTERSTOCK

Remember that Cyber Monday deals are online

Some Target shoppers make the mistake of thinking Cyber Monday deals extend in stores when those are only available online. “I had several customers get angry with me when I could not honor the online deals at,” Beach says. Target also follows a secret markdown schedule every week.

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Rewards pay off during the holidays

If you plan on using Target as your main store for holiday shopping, it pays to sign up for the Target REDCard and Cartwheel App, according to Beach. “I would offer people the chance to sign up, but several didn’t think it would save them any money,” Beach says. Even Value Penguin reports the 5 percent discount with the REDCard is not only hard to beat, but offers better discounts than most rewards credit cards. Don’t get run down by the holidays with our nifty handbook.

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Holiday “packs” might not be the best deal

Sometimes getting value packs of household items is not always cheaper than buying full price. According to Peralta, you could spend more on the bulk holiday pack then the regular size. They often list the price per ounce, so check the cost carefully.

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People browsing an aisle with discount signsJOHN MINCHILLO/AP/SHUTTERSTOCK

Look out for hidden discounts

If you check the prices and the holiday bulk item is worth buying, know that you can still get that price after the holiday. “For example, a teacher came in and bought all of the leftover Easter egg chocolates a few days after the holiday because she was buying them for a class activity,” Peralta says. “It had to go through a few rounds of managers first, but it’s definitely possible if your reason is genuine and you ask nicely.” A few discounts here or there can add up, but if you really want to save, follow these couponing tips.

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Target aisle full of people pushing carts in different directionsJOHN MINCHILLO/AP/SHUTTERSTOCK

Prepare to spend more time than you think

Remember that Target is one of the most popular holiday shopping destinations, so expect both crowds and long lines. “Several hundred people will be in this store at the same time, and there’s a good chance they are there to pick up the same items that are on your list,” Hales says. “Therefore, don’t walk into the store every time thinking that you’ll be in and out with everything you need.” Lines will be long, and Target will be fully staffed, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be all smooth sailing.

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Target order pickup exteriorBWM INFINITY/SHUTTERSTOCK

There are plenty of easier ways to shop rather than in-store

Save yourself the hassle of coming into the store and shop online instead. “While there is something special about coming into the store, you will more than likely have better luck checking out the website from time-to-time, as a majority of other holiday shoppers will still be running around Target’s physical locations,” Hales says. Most shoppers forget that you can order online and have Target employees bring your items to the curb for you. If you’d rather shop in-store, know these self-checkout secrets.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest