May 18, 2011

WAL-MART: Not actually cheaper than Target? “According to pricing studies conducted by Customer Growth Partners, a consumer research firm, January, February and March all revealed Target’s prices were lower than Wal-Mart’s. The monthly study, which is conducted in four states, compares products across segments, including 30 fresh, frozen and non-perishable groceries, eight household chemicals, paper and other consumables like detergent, seven health and beauty aids like shampoo and counter medicines and 10 general merchandise items like apparel and toys.” I like Target much better than Wal-Mart anyway. Wal-Mart is kind of depressing, somehow. Of course, I’d love to shop at a Samuel’s.

UPDATE: Reader Doug Rivers emails: “I’m calling BS on this study. I shop at both and I am a grade A cheapskate. Wal-Mart is hands down cheaper. The study compared 35 BRAND NAME items only, and one of the biggest difference makers was smoking cessation gum. As an example off the top of my head, I use fat free half and half. Target brand is about $2. Wal-Mart about $1. There’s a reason all us po folks shop at Wal-Mart.”

Wherever you buy it, I continue to find the notion of “fat free half-and-half” to be troubling.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Antoinette Aubert writes:

You find “fat free half and half” troubling? I thought I was the only one. I can’t tell you how many times I have stared at it at the store and wondered why such a thing exists.

As for the great Target vs. Walmart debate: I’ve never done a study but my own comparison shopping is that the prices are completely comparable. Generic ibuprofen, zyrtec and band-aids are roughly the same cost at both stores, as are brand names. Maybe Walmart is better at improbable items like “fat free half and half,” but for what my family needs both stores are priced about the same.

Target though has infinitely better customer service, meaning they have customer service. You can wander aimlessly around a Walmart looking for someone to help you find something and end up in an infinite loop. I asked for help at a Target last week and had three people finding stuff for me.

Target getting a grocery section has been such a boon to my family, especially last year when my husband lost half his job for a while. I thought the rise in grocery prices has been a shock at Target, but now and then I venture into actual grocery stores and then I truly know shock. You won’t believe what they want for a box of pasta at grocery stores these days; about $2, no I am not making that up. I have no idea why people still shop at grocery stores.

Meanwhile, reader Scott Pierce emails: “Target is Wal-Mart for pretty people.” That must explain why I shop there, then . . ..

MORE: A reader emails: People Of Walmart vs. People Of Target. And adds: “Please don’t use my name!” Heh.

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