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By Parija Kavilanz

Two recent price comparisons of grocery and household goods revealed that Target’s prices are lower than at No. 1 retailer Wal-Mart.

Craig Johnson, president of retail consulting firm Customer Growth Partners, compared 35 brand-name items sold at Wal-Mart and Target stores in New York, Indiana and North Carolina. They consisted of 22 common grocery goods such as milk, cereal and rice; 10 general merchandise products such as clothing and home furnishings; and three health and beauty items.

Target’s shopping cart rang in at $269.13 (pre-tax), a hair lower than the $271.07 charged at Wal-Mart.

“For the first time in four years, our price comparisons between the two has shown that Target has a slight edge over Wal-Mart,” said Johnson. A smaller study by Kantar Retail found similar results.

Wal-Mart typically maintains a 2% to 4% price advantage over Target. But in January, Johnson noticed that some products were cheaper at Target.

That has continued into February, he said.

If you factor in additional discounts offered to Target’s Redcard customers, the savings gap widens more considerably between the two discounters.

Said Johnson, “When you add the Redcard’s 5% discount, the price gap widens to 5.7%.”

Not all Target customers are Redcard holders. Target declined to say how many customers are members. However, 7.4% of Target’s total sales in the fourth quarter were Redcard transactions, said Target spokeswoman Molly Koenst.

Wal-Mart does not offer a similar program.

“This is a real win for consumers given the huge increase in gas prices lately,” said Johnson. “Consumers have little control over gas prices but they do have control over what they buy and where they shop.”

Targeting Wal-Mart: Target’s undercutting of Wal-Mart’s prices didn’t happen overnight, said Johnson.

“Target stepped up its game during the recession,” he said. “The company caught up with Wal-Mart on making its supply chain more efficient so it could bring down prices on items people frequently buy.”

Groceries are big traffic generators, and Wal-Mart still dominates Target there. About half the items that Wal-Mart sells are groceries.

Johnson estimates that 15% to 20% of Target’s merchandise are groceries. Koenst declined to confirm those numbers but said 16% of Target’s sales in 2009 were food and pet supply purchases.

Chewing over the numbers: Kantar surveys just one Wal-Mart and one Target store in Massachusetts and found Target’s prices in January were about 2.8% lower than Wal-Mart’s.

Among the goods that Kantar compared, cheaper health and beauty items, and particularly smoking cessation gum, helped Target beat Wal-Mart.

But in groceries and household goods such as light bulbs, trash bags and detergent, Kantar found Wal-Mart still boasted better prices than its rival.

Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar said, “We are absolutely committed to offering our customers low prices every day. If customers find a lower advertised price, we’ll match it every time.”

“I think Target can maintain its edge in the near term,” said Johnson at Customer Growth. “But remember, Target isn’t beating Wal-Mart on all items but it is on those that really matter to consumers.”

Comment on this Story

  • Guestasis

    I don’t know which one is a better deal, but I would rather sit on a sharp rusty nail repeatedly than shop at the Market Street WalMart. I will gladly pay a few more dollars not to have to deal with that headache. I would give examples, but some folks might get their feelings hurt.

    Many claim the MJ and Leland locations are better though.

  • Guest


  • Guest461

    …work around all of those “WalMart People” that are in all of those emails. UUUUUUGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH…… THOSE are REAL!!!

    Not to mention, you can’t even get close to the chicken meat counter on Sundays because of all of the illegal mexicans.

  • Guest

    If only Target didn’t make it so hard to return something if damaged or otherwise, it might be worth the few pennies savings to go there.

  • GuestLee

    I read this twice before I realized you were serious. Honestly, would YOU want to accept merchandise that was returned damaged? Geeeezzzz!

  • Das Weibstück

    I have returned a few things at Target and never had an issue. Had my receipts and tags. I would drive past 10 Walmarts to go to any other store.

  • Guest

    So hard to return items. Target has made it very easy to return items. If you don’t have a reciept no problem they can look it up with the card you used to purchase the item. Even if you wrote a check they can look it up. They have made it unbelievably easy.

  • WALMARTS Better

    I for one think that Walmart is better because it has updated the majority of its stores, and now looks more luxurious than Target as well as offering more for your money.m 1 dollar is not a lot and personally i will never shop at Target

  • Guestmart

    Just use “luxurious” and “WalMart” in the same sentence?

    This is why I love WWAY’s website format, where people can easily post comments. The above post just made my day a little brighter. Seriously.

  • Guest

    Hands down, Walmart is so much better. I do not care for Target at all. Once in a great while, I will find what I am looking for. I always find what I am looking for at Walmart (MJ store) and the prices are so much better. Target is not for me.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday

    …that the babes in Target are FAR hotter than the Women of Wal-Mart.

    Now, that’s not to say that all the women of Wal-Mart are beasts. At this time of year, as the weather warms, a lot of hotties from the college shop at Wal-Mart, and you see a lot of tube-tops and daisy dukes. Unfortunately, the tube tops and daisy dukes are usually on middle-aged women who outweigh a Silverado pickup.

    The women you see in Target are more of the soccer-mom type, with hair they have washed within the last forty-eight hours. They’d look good in a bikini, but they don’t shop in one.

    Glad I could contribute so much to this discussion.

    Oh yeah….you don’t have a website labeled “People of Target,” do you?


  • Guest002

    would you know they are illegals? Did you query them or are you just making generalizations.

  • Guest

    Wal-mart has been and always will be my choice. If there was only less than a $2.00 difference when the items were compared I’d much rather spend those extra two bucks in Wal-mart. I’ve shopped in both stores but one reason I don’t like Target is because they allow customers to bring their dogs (pets) in the store (unless they’ve changed their policy) and that’s a real turn off for me….service animals I can understand but a pet, no, there’s something wrong with that!!

  • Guest

    Only service animals are permitted….it says right on the door when you walk in the store.

  • Pricing Guy

    It’s ridiculous to base a retailer’s pricing position on 35 items. 500 items? Maybe. 1000 items, better. But 35 unidentified items that are weighted by higher-ticket items from the clothing and household furnishings categories? Absurd! The only thing that this article demonstrates is that the people making judgments based on such a small sampling of items either don’t know what they’re doing or are deliberately misleading the readers.

  • Guest

    I love this comment. “luxurious” and “WalMart” in the same sentence. It made me smile. WalMart doesn’t even come close to Target’s standards. If you prefer dirty floors, pallets linning the aisles and general lack of housekeeping then by all means continue to shop at WalMart. I would pay more to shop at a Target store so it’s just a bonus that their prices are similar.

  • Guest

    Why would I prefer to shop at Target? Three words….People of Wal-Mart. Check out the site. PeopleofWalMart.com

  • guesty

    A sign can’t stop anything if the person is willing to ignore it. Many places have the no concealed weapon signs up. A law abiding citizen either will not go in or will leave their weapon in the car. A thug will walk right past it still packing. Just like a red light has no power to make you stop at an intersection. The driver is in complete control over if they stop or go on through.

  • Guest

    I’m not sure why you had to comment. One person said they allowed dogs and one said they don’t and there is a sign saying they don’t. The point was they don’t allow dogs. Now you got me commenting on things that doesn’t need commenting on.

  • guesty

    Sorry, WWAY didn’t publish what I wrote so I made a change and resent it. Then they published both.

  • guesty

    They might not allow dogs but if it isn’t enforced, the sign isn’t worth the paper it is printed on. Since you posted, are you saying you lack self-control?

  • Lyn

    Apparently people not only do not read the signs that no animals are allowed in Target but the management and service people don’t seem to care either. My daughter was just recently in our local Target store at the service counter when she noticed a women with a dog all dressed up in a stroller no less. This was obviously not a “service” dog, and although this lady was at the service desk with her dog in plain sight, nothing was said to her. My daughter could’t believe it. Maybe animals are allowed if their feet don’t touch the floor so carrying one in a purse or stroller is acceptable? Whats up with that?

  • Wade griffis

    for the hot babes at target. When you get old, looking is about the only thing you can get away with. Looking is, after all, a great spectator sport.

  • Guest

    I frequently hear claims that Costco, Winco, and even Target have lower prices than Walmart. About once a year I make a copy of a Walmart receipt containing 40 or so typical items (paper towels, orange juice, creamer, lotion, shaving cream, etc) I make an expanded copy, drop in columns for the other stores, go to those stores, jot down their prices and sizes (ounces, ml, etc), go home, compute per unit prices, and compare. EVERY TIME, including this time with Target, I find that the claims were bogus. In the interest of maintaining some respect for WWAY, I would appreciate it if the author would provide some kind of hard evidence for his claim, which would include a representative sampling of merchandise and a comparison of prices on a per unit basis.


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