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'I used to work in TK Maxx and there are the label cheat codes to watch out for to get huge bargains'

Irish Mirror logo Irish Mirror 06/02/2023 Clare McCarthy & Rosaleen Fenton, Deputy Features Editor

TK Maxx is a store where you're bound to find a good bargain if you have the patience to sift through racks of clothes.

But there's a lot more to the chain than random racks that encourage shoppers to go digging - from the location of the best items in the shop, to spacing different sizes away from each other on the rails, some of these annoyances are actually clever marketing ploys.

Some of their biggest tricks have been revealed in a Channel 5 documentary that took a deep dive into their marketing tricks that help them rake in €3.3billion a year, reports the Mirror.

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It gave an inside look into how TK Maxx staff work and some former employees even spilled the beans on what secret discount codes customers should be looking out for - and more.

Discount codes

If you've ever checked a label in TK Maxx, you may have noticed the numbers on the huge tag - and there's one number you should always look out for.

Single-digit numbers form 'cheat codes' that can indicate if you've found a top bargain.

In the C5 documentary, Former senior merchandiser Daniel Baker explains: "The number that is really exciting to a customer is number two."

That means the item is "genuine excess stock" that was sold at a higher price somewhere else, so you've nabbed a good deal.

Daniel adds: "The main three codes are one, two and seven. One means produced for TK Maxx.

"Two is 'close-out buy' that is unsold from another brand. And seven is 'pack away', which means it's been packed for a previous year, like Christmas crackers bought in January for the following December."

Customers should look out for the number two © Channel 5 Customers should look out for the number two

Designer brands

Many of us will have noticed that the chain has an impressive amount of designer brands on sale - including Diesel, Calvin Klein and Clarks.

These brands actually produce lines specifically for TK Maxx, and also produce its own clothes under 500 trademarked names - so you may have purchased a TK original.

In the documentary, an expert explains that customers often perceive things placed together as being of similar value, which can encourage purchasing.

Hashing items

Staff are trained in 'hashing' which sounds like some sort of Nordic spot, but actually refers to where items are located on rails in a bid to boost sales.

In the show, former team leader Jodie Evans, who worked for TK Maxx between 2010 to 2015, says: "We used to hash the products through the rails. If you have three sizes small, we might put one at the start ... one in the middle and one at the end."

Daniel adds: "We wanted to have only one of everything on the racks because it meant that when (shoppers) saw it, they were adamant they had to buy it there and then."

Fashion psychologist Shakaila Forbes-Bell explains: "You feel like you have successfully completed your task. You've found a reward and the fact it's isolated makes it even more positive."

Seamless experience

While trying to find the perfect party dress, it can be a slog to check the tightly-packed rails to find a suitable outfit.

But one trick staff do to make it easier is wax the rails - so the hangers seamlessly glide on, without an off-putting scratchy sound leaving you despairing.

Jodie added: "Waxing the rails is a well-known secret among the teams at TK Maxx and it's something the customer wouldn't necessarily know about. It allows you to glide the products through the rails quite easily without that horrible squeaky, scratchy sound you often hear at many retailers."

Inside a TK Maxx store (file photo) © HEMEDIA / SWNS Group Inside a TK Maxx store (file photo)

Location, location, location

It can feel like there's no cunning system in how TK Maxx organises their stores, but of course, a lot of thought goes into it.

Ex-merchandiser Daniel explained in the show: "A lot of the things people really want they put at the back of the store," meaning customers have to stroll past other items beforehand.

While on their way, it's hoped they'll spot something else they're interested in - and buy it.

Consumer journalist Harry Wallop explained: "On the one hand, it's like a department store."

"But it's laid out like a jumble sale. You are looking for some pans and you end up with Himalayan pink salt."

In a statement on the TV show, TK Maxx said: "Some of our merchandise is manufactured for us and some we design.

"A small percentage is from previous seasons or timeless classics.

"New deliveries arrive several times a week, containing thousands of items, and our associates display this fast-changing stock typically by size and category-creating the 'treasure-hunt' experience our shoppers love."


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