The Drugstore Pricing Codes

There are a lot of codes and numbers on the shelf price tags in drug stores. Recently, Stacy pointed out a neat code on the shelf tags in Longs Drug Stores: A code that shows the store cost.

This code substitutes letters for numbers in the price. For example, H stands for 2 and L stands for 5.

So, for example, if a candy bar has a retail price of 44, it might have a cost code of HL, indicating that Longs Drugs pays 25 for it.

The Longs Drugs Price code appears in the middle of many of their on-shelf pricetags. It is two, three or four letters.

Here, the ANT stands for 308, meaning that the Longs Store paid $3.08 for the M&Ms, and will make 91 on the retail sale.


Zero through nine are substituted as follows:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0

I was amazed that this information is right out on the sales floor for anyone to see. So I'm not surprised that Longs Drug Stores are starting to replace these with price labels that do not reveal a cost code.

As you can see, the employees can use the word "Charleston" to help them remember the correct number substitution. I wonder if they ever sold something that cost $3.77.

Not long after finding out that one drugstore used price tag codes, I went looking for them in other places. The first place I found them was at Walgreen's Drugstores.

On the Walgreen's pricetags, A few letters sit in the low middle of the price tags. Here, the store paid UHA for a $4.99 bottle of Scope.

Other prices showed up on the shelf like this: 

Product Retail Price Store Cost Code
Walgreen's Toothpaste $1.99 BNN
Pepsid AC  $3.79  RHN
Cranberry Capsules $12.99 CHC
Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Kit $10.49 LEN
Phisoderm Cleanser $5.29 RAE
HoMedics Soft Pillow $9.99 HSL
Refresh Plus Eye Lubricant Drops0 $14.99 AAU

I have not yet cracked the Walgreen's Price code. I used the A2ZScrabble Word Finder, but couldn't find a 10-letter match like Longs' CHARLESTON. Tom has offered to help if he ever winds up the high bidder on an ENIGMA machine, but maybe you can help before then.

The store cost probably hovers around 50% of the retail price.

They use BNRHCLEAS and U. It seems to me that B stands for 1. 

I wonder what other stores use them. I love stuff like this. Secret codes right in front of my face.


Update! Dec. 15th - 

Many, many, many people wrote in with new cost codes, tips and answers. Quincunx was the first person to come up with BRUSHCLEAN for the Walgreens price code. BRUNCHSALE was another favorite.

I can't wait to check out codes at Abercrombie and Fitch, Cash Pawn America, Victoria's Secret, Ace Hardware and Albertsons! 

Thank you! 

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Dec 14th, 2004.

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