10 Things You Think Are Cheaper at Walmart—But Aren’t
Everyone loves a good deal. But while budget shopping and Walmart practically go hand in hand, is it always the cheapest? We found out which key items you can score for less elsewhere.
Everyday low prices
To many, Walmart is a wonderland unlike any other. Bright, air-conditioned aisles offer both fan-favorites and unexpected surprises. While there are some new rules for shopping at Walmart, Target, and more during COVID-19, some things will never change. Through low price guarantees and an everything-and-anything shopping model, Walmart offers consumers exactly what they’re looking for.
“Walmart has always been known as a discount bargain-hunters’ dream. From a marketing perspective, they’ve done a phenomenal job with brand association to discount pricing,” notes Tiara Rea-Palmer, Head of Retail Relations at CouponFollow.com. “Many consumers head to Walmart assuming they have the lowest price. Period.”
While Walmart is a bargain store in many regards (and some items are cheaper at Walmart than on Amazon), some items are not nearly the deal you may be expecting.
Things in bulk
“Sometimes when we buy in bulk, we wind up throwing the ‘bulk’ of what we bought in the trash; no one needs 10 pounds of honey mustard,” says Rachel Cruze, a financial expert and author of Love Your Life, Not Theirs. “But there are times when buying in bulk is the best way to save.” According to Cruze, one of those times is when you buy household goods at warehouse stores like Costco, which are generally cheapest across the board. “Stock up on things like paper towels, toilet paper, trash bags, and cleaning products to save money in the long run.”
For the holidays or birthdays, you don’t need to spend much on gift wrap. Stock up on wrapping paper, gift bags, tissue paper, tape, and all of your gift-wrapping needs at a local dollar store. “While Walmart does have some good deals on these items, dollar stores are still cheaper,” shares Cruze. “And don’t forget to save all of the gift bags and bows you receive during the holidays to save money next year!”
Julia Ramhold, Consumer Analyst with DealNews.com, warns against consumers assuming everything is a better deal at Walmart: “It’s easy to fall into trap of thinking that Walmart’s ‘everyday low price’ means the lowest there is, but that’s not always the case.” Find out 10 more things you should have been buying from the dollar store all along.
Diapers, wipes, and other baby supplies
When it comes to babies, especially newborns, it’s true what they say: Babies are expensive. “I use Amazon’s ‘Subscribe and Save’ option when it comes to baby goods that I know I need to continuously restock, like diapers and wipes,” Cruze says. It saves you a couple of dollars each time, which makes a difference because those little guys go through them so fast. “Plus, the convenience factor of having them delivered to your door before you need them is priceless!”
On the flip side, Tia Rea-Palmer notes the price advantage of Walmart-brand items. Many Walmart branded items can be cheaper and are of same or better quality than other name-brand items elsewhere. “For example, Parent’s Choice, a popular diaper and formula brand, is cheaper than Pampers on most days, and a bag of Great Value cereal can be lower rice than a name-brand box of Cheerio’s,” says Rea-Palmer. “If the brand isn’t important to you, Walmart’s branded items can be a great bargain.” These are the strangest things you can buy at Walmart.
“Around the holidays, parents are stocking up on batteries for the presents Santa will be leaving under the tree, so it follows that Walmart and supermarkets tend to have a high markup on them,” says Cruze. “You’re better off buying batteries in bulk at warehouse stores like Costco.”
When it comes to batteries, Ramhold adds that warehouse clubs offer the “better price per unit on batteries, especially if you opt for rechargeable ones.” These are the Kirkland products you should always buy at Costco.
Just because a piece of furniture—from a bed frame to an end table—is inexpensive, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a great deal. “If you’re redecorating, do your research before you snag the cheapest piece of furniture you can find,” says Cruze. Julia Ramhold also notes that much of the furniture is made of “MDF (medium density fiberboard) or particle board, and neither material is made for the long-haul.”
While the price tag for furniture might be cheapest at Walmart, you should think about the quality and how long it will last. “If it’s not going to hold up for at least a few years, you might wind up spending more money in the long-run.”
Instead, advises Cruze, try searching for items through an online retailer like Overstock.com, since they typically don’t have the overhead costs that brick-and-mortar stores have. “Or,” she says, “you could consider saving a little while longer to purchase something that will last.” Polite people will never do these things at Walmart.
If you are in the market for new tires, try Sam’s Club or Costco, says Sara Skirboll, RetailMeNot’s shopping and trends expert. “They will be a little cheaper than Walmart,” she says. “Plus, Costco offers their members free tire balancing and rotations.” Check out these 15 things you’re not buying at Costco, but should.
“While some of Walmart’s items may be lower cost due to price drops or rollbacks, they don’t offer site-wide coupon codes—and you can often save as much if not more at another retailer,” reminds Rea-Palmer of CouponFollow.com.
If you’re looking to purchase organic fruit and vegetables, according to a recent article in Kiplinger, Trader Joe’s and Aldi usually have lower prices than Walmart. “Amazon Prime members should also check Whole Foods, as membership qualifies you for exclusive discounts on select items,” adds shopping expert Trae Bodge. Also, says Bodge, if you shop at Whole Foods with your Amazon Prime Rewards Visa card, you’ll receive 5 percent cash back on your purchases.
With COVID-19, Tiara Rea-Palmer notes that “fresh produce at Walmart is changing rapidly—in a good way—with some popular brands choosing to unveil new, organic, or dietary-friendly foods at Walmart.”
It’s hard to compete with Amazon when it comes to paperbacks. “For example, You Are a Bad*ss is on sale for $9.60 at Amazon and $14.60 on Walmart,” Skirball noted at press time. Additionally, if you’re looking for hardcover books, “they are typically around the same price on both sites.” Here are 24 more things you should always buy on Amazon.
While Walmart is very competitive when it comes to pricing of electronics, they don’t always have the lowest prices, says Bodge. “Walmart carries the brand Onn, which is a budget tier brand, but also tends to not offer anything exceptional in terms of features,” according to Ramhold.
Prior to investing in a 4K TV or a Google Home device, take a look at the same item at competitors, like Amazon, Best Buy, Target, or Newegg. “You just might find a lower price elsewhere,” she says.
According to Bodge, at Walmart stores and at Walmart.com, you can find a broad selection of gift cards, from brands like Dunkin’ Donuts, AT&T, Starbucks, and Nordstrom. While this is certainly convenient, you’ll be paying full price for these gift cards. Instead, use an online aggregator (which collects information from a number of sites) like GiftCardGranny.com, which has thousands of gift cards at a discount.
Additionally, this June, Rea-Palmer points that Walmart opened its online marketplace to Shopify, with more than 1 million business clients: “Over the coming months, consumers should check Walmart’s online marketplace for good deals from Shopify sellers, which may be cheaper than Walmart’s usual pricing for the same or similar items.”
Next, don’t miss the 15 things you’re not buying from Walmart—but should.