8 insider facts about shopping at Target that only employees know

Justin Sullivan / Getty ImagesSticky fingers, beware: Target has a digital-forensics program that is state of the art.
  • Target store employees know a lot about the chain’s inner workings.
  • Employees have taken to the web to share all sorts of interesting secrets about the brand.
  • Here’s a look at some insider insights that could be helpful to customers, courtesy of Target employees.

Target store employees know all about the retail giant’s inside operations.

And there are plenty of current and former employees out there. Today, Target has 1,829 stores in the US. It also employs a massive workforce, with over 350,000 global team members.

Some of those workers have taken to the web to share information on what it’s like to work at the chain. Some also shared tips and suggestions on how to make the most of your shopping experience and how to snag the best deals.

So if you’re planning on going on a Target run anytime soon, consider going in prepared with this insider information.

Here’s a look at some surprising facts about the retail chain, courtesy of current and former Target employees:


Target has a state-of-the-art forensics program to catch shoplifters, among other things.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Apparently “CSI: Target” is a thing.

The retail chain runs two forensic labs, one in Minneapolis and the other in Las Vegas. On its website, Target said its investigators solve cases through “video and image analysis, latent fingerprint and computer forensics.”

In a 2008 article profiling the Target Forensic Services team, Forbes reported that 70% of the lab’s time is spent looking into fraud, theft, and personal cases.

But Target investigators have also assisted law-enforcement agencies on a number of armed robbery, kidnapping, and homicide cases, according to Minnesota Public Radio.

People who said they have worked at Target before took to Reddit to say that the stores tend to have state-of-the-art camera surveillance.

“The resolution on those things was insane,” one Reddit poster wrote.

“I worked at Target in the early nineties and it was insane then,” another Reddit user added. “Twenty years later and I wouldn’t be surprised if they weigh me as I enter and as I leave to determine if I’m shoplifting.”

One Target employee told Business Insider that the surveillance system doesn’t ensure that all shoplifters get busted immediately, however.

“Stores will often let shoplifters go until they steal an amount that will be counted as a felony – sending them straight to jail,” the Target employee told Business Insider.


Be nice to employees — it might pay off.

Sometimes, it pays to be nice.

Business Insider’s Kate Taylor previously reported on a viral blog started by Target employee Tom Grennell.

He wrote about working during a special sale when his Target store was giving out a 10% discount on all purchases. The store had mailed out a coupon, but if customers forgot their copies, they could ask for another coupon.

“I have a coupon to scan if anyone asks for it. I scan it if people don’t ask for it if they’re nice to me,” Grennell wrote. “I don’t scan it if they’re rude. Power is a new sensation. Power is a good sensation.”


You can’t necessarily spot a clearance item by its price tag.

Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

The website Truth or Fiction threw cold water on the idea that prices ending in certain numbers indicate clearance items at Target.

“The ending digit of a clearance price is determined by several factors including the original retail price and the applied percentage discount,” former Target PR representative Evan Lapiska told Truth or Fiction. “It is not possible to determine the final markdown or timing of the price change from the item’s current price.”

The website also debunked the idea that Target’s mark downs run on a weekly schedule.


Target cashiers are sometimes motivated to do a speedy checkout.

Scott Olson/Getty

At some stores, Target cashiers are reportedly under pressure to check you out as quickly as possible.

Former Target cashier and Quora user Ashley Zurita wrote, “Target has a system where they time you on how fast you get a customer through checkout.”

She said that employees at some locations go through weekly evaluations, during which they’re given either a red, yellow, or green designation.

“If you get the colour red, it means you are moving way too slow and not meeting the standards for checking people out through the line fast enough,” Zurita wrote. “You can also be yellow, which means you are still not getting the customer checked out fast enough and you need to improve your time. Then there is green. If you get the green colour you are doing a good job and keeping a fast pace checking out customers.”

She said that failing to achieve green more than twice in a row can cause a Target cashier to be moved to a stocking role.

One Target employee told Business Insider that such systems were not nationwide.

“Many of these old systems based on speed have been thrown out in favour of giving the guest the best experience possible,” the employee said.


You can use Target to get rid of gift cards.

Got gift cards that you’d just like to get rid of?

At participating Target stores, you can swap out unwanted gift cards from brands like Bed, Bath & Beyond, Costco, Sam’s Club, Nordstrom, and more. Just head over to the store’s mobile-phone counter.

BuzzFeed reported that you “won’t get 100% of the card’s value – you might even get less than online offers,” however.


Employees see some pretty strange stuff on the job.

One Target employee told Cosmopolitan about a shopper who angrily knocked over a soap display after employees complied with local laws by refusing to sell her alcohol after 9 p.m.

Another employee described watching a group of teenagers drag some beanbag chairs into the middle of an aisle and proceed to eat snow, according to Cosmopolitan.

And a third Target employee recalled a customer who returned three full bags of groceries because “her kids didn’t like” her purchases, Cosmopolitan reported.


Khakis and red shirts are the order of the day for Target employees.

Target employees aren’t given uniforms. Instead, according to the blog Tough Nickel, they must wear khaki pants or skirts and completely red shirts.

Former Target employee and Quora user Brian Walsh wrote that the chain doesn’t “care about the shade of red. Some of my coworkers had shirts that were closer to maroon.”

However, one Target employee told Business Insider that “collared shirts are preferred” when it comes to the employee dress code.

To be sure the person you’re approaching for help is an employee and not a shopper, look for a name tag first.


Employees get 20% off on fruits and vegetables.

Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

Target employees get a 10% discount on store and online purchases.

But they get a significantly larger discount on other items.

Target employee and Quora user Nelson Brown wrote, “Your team member discount card gives an additional 20% off on fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, and any ‘Simply Balanced’ store brand products. Makes the prices for those products a lot more competitive.”

Are you a Target employee with a story to share? Email [email protected]

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