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A price tag is a label declaring the price of an item for sale. It may be a sticker or attached by twist tie or other means.

Typical price tag with security cuts, for 99¢ + tax

Some jurisdictions require items (possibly exceptions for bulk good and produce) to be individually marked with the price, or have shelf tags or barcode scanners available so customers can determine prices without consulting store staff. In some cases, unit price is also required.

Some jurisdictions also outlaw price discrimination except for different quantities (e.g. quantity discounts are allowed) or different types of customers (e.g. individuals vs. organizations that might be expected to buy in bulk or have better creditworthiness). For example, the 1936 Robinson–Patman Act outlaws this practice in the United States.

Many price tags also bear the name of the store.


Before the late 19th century, in most cases, retail goods did not have a fixed price, and each customer would be expected to haggle with the store clerk.[citation needed] The Quakers, who found it immoral for different customers to pay different prices (now known as price discrimination) were an exception. In the 1870s, Wanamaker's in Philadelphia and Macy's in New York (Rowland Hussey Macy was a Quaker) began affixing physical tags to items, eliminating haggling. This allowed shorter training time for new clerks (who would no longer need to know the art of haggling nor the range of accepted prices for every item) and allowed clerks to serve more customers.[1]

Even large stores kept goods behind a counter, requiring clerks to fetch items for customers. The Piggly Wiggly chain of grocery stores was the first to become self-service in 1916, further cementing the need for price tags. Price tags soon became commonplace in Western retail stores, and haggling rare outside of proprietors and individuals selling used items.


  1. ^ "Planet Money Episode 633: The Birth And Death Of The Price Tag". 17 June 2015.

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