How To Read Your Grocery Receipt: sale discounts and regular prices

Ever think that they make grocery receipts as confusing as possible so you don’t really understand what you’re paying? Well, maybe they do and maybe they don’t, but today I’m starting a series on How To Read Your Grocery Receipt.  We’re going to explore everything from double coupons to e-coupons to savings percentages, and today we’re starting with the basics: sale discounts and regular prices.

Deciphering Sale Discounts and Regular Prices

Let’s talk about how sale prices show up on your receipt.  On the right you see a receipt from King Soopers.  Let’s look at the bottom three items:

3 @ 3.49 Nstl Semi-Swt [ + ] -$ 10.47
SC Nstle Semi-S ($1.99) $1.50-P
SC Nstle Semi-S ($1.99) $1.50-P
SC Nstle Semi-S ($1.99) $1.50-P

Here’s how to interpet that: the first line, 3 @ 3.49 Nstl Semi-Swt [ + ] -$ 10.47 tells us that we bought three bags of Nestle Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips and that they were $3.49 each, thus a total of $10.47 in the far right column.

(You can click on any of the images to enlarge)

Those chocolate chips, however, were on sale, so on the next three lines, we have the information about what the sale price was.  Where it says SC Nstle Semi-S ($1.99) $1.50-P, $1.99 is the actual price they were on sale for.  The 1.50-P shows us how much the register took off to adjust the regular price to the sale price.  Everything in that right hand column adds up to get your total.

So, we have three bags of Nestle chips at $10.47 regular price.  Because they are on sale for $1.50 off, we subtract $1.50 three times to get the final sale price of $1.99 each.

The number in the right-hand column at the top of the “section” of Nestle chips, in normal font, is the regular price.  The number inside the parenthesis is the final sale price, and the negative number in the right hand column below the regular price is how much the register has taken off in order to reflect the sale discount.

For an example of how something rings up that’s not on sale, look to the middle of that image at the item that says Kro Salt .49.  There are no adjustments to this price; it is not on sale.

Wow, I think these receipts are even more confusing when you try to explain how they work!

Here’s another example, this time with a Safeway receipt.  Safeway shows the product and price on the first line, then the second line states what the regular price was and how much you saved by using your Safeway card.

AA Batteries 4.99
Reg Price 7.49  CardSav 2.50

So, the price we actually paid was $4.99, which is the regular price of $7.49 minus the card savings of $2.50.  Personally I think Safeway’s receipts are easier to read!

Stay tuned for more on How To Read Your Grocery Receipt!  If you have questions, please feel free to ask in the comments, and I (or someone else) will either answer there or answer it in a future post in this series.  Next Monday we’ll look at how coupons and doubled coupons show up on your receipt.



  1. hey Carrie,
    This is just a general comment–when I’m on your “home” page nothing on the right is showing up, just the most recent posts, no buttons, no links, ect. But when I go to a comment section, then everything shows up normal. it started last night-thought I’d let you know.

  2. I have a question. When you are submitting a rebate, do you circle the regular price or the regular price and the discounts? I guess I am mainly wondering about the King Soopers receipt. For the safeway receipt, it seems logical that you would just circle the sale price, because that is what is listed in the right hand colum. But the KS receipt seems a little more confusing.

    • Good question – honestly, usually I just kind of circle the whole line, the item name + the price.

  3. Hello. I’ve bookmarked your site. This is GREAT!
    Now for my comment. I want to know if there is a database of grocery stores that don’t do the register receipts this way?
    I found my first one and I’ve written to my other three grocery store chains to let them know I will not be back. Unfortunately, I made a ‘pact’ with myself that I’d only go to them for major sales. They had corn, 2 for a buck and thier corn was always good. I bought soda and corn. THAT’S IT. Long story short, instead of saying ANYWHERE on the receipt that the corn was .50 cents, it said everything, including 4@.19 (making it look like my 4 ears should be .76 cents).
    I’m so frustrated and now I won’t even go back for sales. Please let me know if there is a database that lists stores that don’t pull this stuff on customers.
    Thank you.

  4. Virginia says:

    I have an easy question, what do the letters next to the price stand for? And there are two different taxes, in my state tax #1 and tax #2, I assume its tax for state and tax for the city! It all looks confusing sometimes.

  5. What do the letters mean after the price in the right hand column? Is their a rubric these grocery stores follow? What are some commonalities that you have seen between the various grocery receipts as far as placement and naming of items goes?

  6. Fisherman says:

    what is the 10 digit number just beside the date towards the bottom of my king soopers receipt??? I would like to know what it tracks? or what it is used for??

  7. Lucita Rushfrod says:

    This is very helpful! We do our grocery to Harris Teeter but I have been thinking of going to Safeway. You’re right, The Safeway’s receipts are easy to understand than the Harris Teeter’s, which is so complicated, especially on their sale items. The reason we still continue on going to Harris Teeter is their service, which is great: you get help quickly, polite, and happy. I’m sure, if I know what to ask, HT will give me straight answer. Can you help me understand HT receipts as I’m embarrassed to to ask them?

    Thank you so much.

  8. I shop Sav-A-Lot. I have noticed that they adjust the amount I buy so the receipt shows “regular” price and the correct total for the sale. At first I wanted to tell them I DID NOT buy 4 pounds (or whatever) but I saw that the amount was correct.

  9. I think the Safeway recipts are confusing, and giant food is a lot easier to under stand

  10. What does the “T” or “F” mean next to the price column?

    • These are tax codes. What tax an item gets if any. There’s usually something at the bottom of the receipt like T = x.xx%. More specifically I think T means taxed and F means food but I’m not positive.

  11. I need some help please understanding a receipt from albertsons when they have a sale offering for example different price for items when buying 6 . Mix or match. The bottom says . $ mega sale cpn. Then a $ amount followed by T or F listed separately . The sale price I expected to pay for each of those items never showed anywhere on my receipt . So confusing . Thanks

  12. Do you know what VF in the far left of a COSTCO receipt means? I can’t figure it out. After VF, it says “American Express” and then the amount, but no other explanation or detail on what the purchase is. Thanks!

  13. On a Costco receipt what does this mean:
    4.99 A
    Does the A mean it is not a taxable item?

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