Target vs. Walmart: Where’s the best deal?

Getting kicked outta Walmart was never an item high on my bucket list. But after aiming my iPhone camera at a block of cheddar and telling the price tag to “say cheese”, both my bucket list and shopping list got a lot shorter that day.

The manager guy seemed nice enough when he asked what I was doing. I couldn’t help but state the obvious and tell him the truth.

target walmart

Me: I’m doing a price check experiment to see who’s got the best deals in Canada — Walmart or Target. I’m a savvy Canuck shopper, Sir.

Walmart Manager (aka “Sir”): We don’t allow this.

Me: You don’t allow savvy Canadian shoppers?

Walmart Manager: No, iPhones.

Me: But everyone has an iPhone, Sir. Well, except my husband — he went Android.

Walmart Manager: No, I meant photos. We’re a little touchy with Target now opening across Canada.

Me: Oh, I was just at the new Target and live Tweeted the grand opening. Super fun! They sell pretty designer scarves and strange mullet skirts. But they don’t have a lot of cheese stocked yet, so I think you’re OK. Look, here’s the photo.

Walmart Manager: You should probably go. Please, no more pictures.

Me: So asking for a managerial selfie is outta the question? This cheese backdrop would look lovely on my blog. [...as I walk out of Walmart]

I got a slight ‘case of the sads’ when I exited Walmart. Not because I got busted for snooping and snapping price tags, but ’cause after doing a Squawkfox-style price check experiment I couldn’t totally agree with the Canuck media’s review of the non-existent price war between Target and Walmart.

target canada

Spot the Canuck stuff at Target Canada

The National Post reported that the “two retailers had an almost identical tally at the cash register on a basket of 29 items” while The Globe and Mail cited a survey that said “Target Canada prices are 0.2 per cent higher than Walmart’s”.

shopping carts

Really? Well, not on my basket of stuff. Do these survey monkeys (AKA “people”) not have kids? Or use coupons? Or care about the awesome that is the Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP)? Do they like mullet skirts and wear pretty designer scarves? Umm, do these people drink coffee?

The answer for choosing between, and ultimately consumerism-ing at, either Target or Walmart really depends on what you need to purchase, what you want to buy, and how you like to shop. The pros and cons of each store can often go beyond price — and this is the BIG POINT the newspapers missed. Coffee break, anyone?

Here’s how to decide if you’re on team red (Target) or team blue (Walmart).

Target Canada vs. Walmart Canada: Where’s the deal?

I have three simple rules when I comparison shop on Squawkfox. They are:

Rule 1: Compare items of the same size and brand.
Rule 2: Use regular priced items. No sales allowed!
Rule 3: Don’t get caught photographing price tags (sigh).

These rules came in handy when I blogged Is Costco really worth it? and Are you getting gouged at Value Village? Flunking Rule 3 by getting busted in Walmart was a little awful, but that’s not stopping me from reporting my price check findings to you. :)

After shopping a basket of 30 items under the categories of Grocery, Personal Care, and Baby, I found these results:

Grocery: It’s a TIE

walmart target prices

milk prices

Bottom Line: On a random basket of 14 grocery items, Walmart is the clear *cough* winner with a whopping $1.35 in savings. I’ll give the Canuck media and survey monkeys a pass on this one since grocery items are indeed equally priced at both stores.

Personal Care: Advantage Target

target walmart shopping list

purex toilet paper

old spice

tampax tampons

Tide

Bottom Line: Stock up on girlie products, laundry detergent, deodorant, and toilet paper at Target ’cause the savings range from 4.55% to nearly 30% when compared to the same stuff at Walmart.

Baby Items: Advantage Walmart

walmart canada


pampers diapers

baby formula

Bottom Line: Babies are expensive little human beings. If you have one or more, do your wallet a solid by shopping at Walmart where disposable diapers, formula, and baby cereals cost up to 33% less than at Target. How did the media miss these stellar savings?

target walmart prices

Bottom Line: If you’ve got a kiddlet or toddler in tow you’d save nearly 6% on a $200 shopping cart by skipping Target and hitting up Walmart.

target stores

Bottom Line: If you’re livin’ a child-free lifestyle head over to Target where you’ll save 2.67%, that’s a staggering $3.82, on groceries and personal care items.

Reasons to shop at Target

There are advantages to shopping at Target beyond basic grocery prices. I can’t believe I just wrote that, but after shopping for reals at the red retailer I discovered why some shoppers say this store is so special. The price-crunching survey monkeys and media missed these points!

Designer Collaborations

A Missoni zigzag pattern crochet dress will cost ya $2,540 at NET-A-PORTER.com, the “luxury fashion destination” for all the big designers. But skip the glittery glitz and score a “Missoni for Target” designer collaboration dress for $40, and you’re wearing the famed designer for $2,500 less! Plus you can still afford to eat. And pay rent. And maybe buy a matching pair of strappy sandals?

Over the years Target has built highly successful collaborations with top designers Prabal Gurung, Jason Wu, and Phillip Lim (just to name a few) to create consumer frenzies online and instore. Scoring a few fun and affordable fashions under a big designer brand is a huge reason to shop at Target over Walmart — mostly ’cause you ain’t wearing Wu from Walmart.

vera neumann target

vera target scarf

The local Target didn’t stock any super fancy designer labels on my visit, but they did shelve these stunning scarves by American artist Vera Neumann. Sold under the “Vera for Target” brand and priced at $19.99 a piece in both Canada and the U.S., I couldn’t help but buy TWO of these gorgeous scarves for myself and one for my sister-in-law. I also bought milk. So Target wins.

Gilligan O'Malley Bra

Gilligan O'Malley Panty

Target also wins for selling unique and interesting clothing some would argue is of higher quality than Walmart. These pretty Gilligan & O’Malley panties sell for only $5 in Canada and the U.S. (a panty steal), and when paired with the matching bra for $16.99 you’ve got a Monet-inspired ensemble costing far less then the stuff sold at leading lingerie stores. And yes, I had a little panty raid and picked up a few pairs for my sister-in-law too. So Target wins again. :)

Target’s 5% REDCard?

Target Canada is pushing hard for consumers to sign up for their REDCard Debit or REDCard RBC MasterCard loyalty products. The draw for frequent shoppers is an instant 5% off most Target purchases.

Target REDcard

The catch with these no annual fee cards is the $30 hit to your chequing account if you attempt to debit without sufficient funds, and the 19.99% MasterCard interest rate if you carry a balance — both will erode your 5% savings fast.

A lovely store layout

It’s hard to put a value on something called “shopping experience” since it doesn’t discount the final purchase price at checkout, but I think Target should win some points for giving consumers a more upscale “feeling” than Walmart.

Target shoes

First of all, Target’s fitting rooms are generously sized with ample mirrors showing you every darn angle. There’s also a “Family Fitting Room” which is awesome if you’ve got a squirmy toddler in need of togs or require additional floor space to fit a stroller. Most moms and dads would agree this is a HUGE plus!

Target’s shopping aisles are far wider than Walmart’s — I wanted to measure with an actual measuring tape (and I would have) but I’m trying my best to not get kicked outta both stores, people! But yeah, Target’s grocery lanes don’t give me the cramped feeling I experience at Walmart.

Starbucks, please!

I’m not one to shop and dine under one roof unless I’m surviving a trip to IKEA, but being able to down a tasty Starbucks Tall enroute to home is a bit of a Target draw for me.

Starbucks

While Starbucks IS tasty and Target is kinda fun, you’ll save a fortune by making your Frappuccinos at home.

Make a Starbucks Frappuccino for $0.32

Recipes

Make a Starbucks Frappuccino for $0.32

This homemade Frappuccino recipe tastes like Starbucks, but costs 92% less.

Read More »

Also, buying an Egg McMuffin at Walmart is a little sad. Those tasty muffins can be toasted at home for 65% less.

Make a healthier McDonald's Egg McMuffin for 65% less

Food, Saving

Make a healthier McDonald's Egg McMuffin for 65% less

A fun and easy recipe for making a homemade Egg McMuffin. The photos are fun.

Read More »

And don’t tell me McDonald’s serves a superior cuppa to Starbucks. I’ve tasted both brews, and since this is my bloggy blog, I’m declaring Starbucks the coffee winner and a plus for shopping at Target.

Reasons to shop at Walmart

I can’t believe no one besides bloggers have written about these awesome reasons to shop at Walmart over Target.

Walmart honours “The SCOP”

I asked my favourite coupon expert and blogging buddy Cassie Howard (AKA Mrs. January) why she’s such a big fan of Walmart. She says it’s all about “The SCOP”.

“SCOP – Scanning Code of Practice. If an item $10 or under scans incorrectly at the cash register, you get it FREE! If it’s more than $10, you get $10 off. Most stores in Canada adhere to this policy but not Target.” — Cassie Howard, Mrs. January

The official name for what money bloggers tend to call “The SCOP” is the Retail Council of Canada’s Scanner Price Accuracy Voluntary Code. This code is an amazing thing if you care about consumer protection, want to pay the tagged price for your goods, and don’t want to be overcharged for incorrectly scanned goods at checkout.

Over the years I’ve used “The SCOP” to score mis-scanned items for free and have done my bit to share this neat bit of consumer advocacy with you guys. In The Definitive Guide: 22 Ways to get a discount on anything (part two) I told ya how to get your groceries for free by spotting scanner price errors at checkout using this code.

Since Walmart voluntarily follows “The SCOP” and Target does not, let’s agree with Cassie and deem Walmart a shopping win for consumers.

Coupon Overage

Another big reason Mrs. January (AKA Cassie Howard) shops at Walmart over Target is for this thing called coupon overage. She says Target does not accept coupon overage, “which is what makes Walmart so awesome.”

“Overage = Your coupon value is more than the cost of the item. For example, you have a $2 coupon for a $1 bottle of shampoo. You get $1 in overage that can be applied to your purchase or given to you in cash. Only Walmart and Giant Tiger give overage [in Canada].” — Cassie Howard, Mrs. January

Here’s the Target Canada Coupon Policy — the comments on Cassie’s blog are from experienced couponers and the shared knowledge is very helpful.

To learn how to maximize your coupons at Walmart or any Canadian retailer, do check out Mrs. January. She’s in the know when it comes to price matching, stacking, and all the other coupon lingo that goes with extreme couponing.

So where am I going with this?

There’s more to basic pricing when it comes to consumerism-ing at Walmart or Target. Those with tiny tots (AKA babies) could see some serious savings by opting to purchase Walmart’s disposable diapers, formula, and baby cereals. Walmart shoppers can also benefit from better coupon policies and free goods by spying price scanning errors with “The SCOP.”

The Mullet Skirt

Target shoppers can save around 5.4% across a basket of personal care items, and nearly 30% on toilet paper alone. Become a frequent shopper and sign up for the Target REDCard and nab an additional 5% savings on most items. Target shoppers are easy to spot ’cause they wear nicer underwear under their mullet skirts and fancy designer dressers.

The bottom line for choosing to shop at any store is to do your own price check experiment to see if what you purchase on a regular basis is a fair price. Just don’t get kicked out of the store for snapping pictures of price tags in a quest to sleuth savings — it’s a bit of a bummer if you run a popular money blog. Seriously.

Love,
Kerry

Your two cents:

  1. Marianne June 4th, 2013

    I appreciated the comparison you did, as well as the points you made about the importance of an overall shopping experience.
    As Walmart opens new locations they are addressing some of that. The Walmart Supercentre that opened near me last summer has wider aisles, better decorating, and in addition to the McDonald’s it also offers a Tim Hortons … clearly a direct response to Target’s partnership with Starbucks.
    When my area gets its first Target, sometime in the fall, I will likely end up shopping at both Walmart and Target from time to time, depending on the purpose of my shop and which direction I will be headed for other errands (they will be about equidistant from my home, but in opposite directions).

  2. Barb June 4th, 2013

    Hi, Kerry:

    Here’s how I work: I always check prices, and mostly buy only on sale. But attitude in a store is a biggie for me. If I got kicked out of a store because I was taking a picture of their precious cheese, I would probably not go back, except on a dare. And I don’t take dares.

    Wal-Mart has had a – perhaps unjustified – reputation for being protective of itself. But don’t do it at the loss of my dignity, because I shop with my feelings, as well as my feet.

    Keep shopping, saving and checking for us! And thanks!

    Barb

  3. Katie June 4th, 2013

    Hi Kerry!

    I’ve been keeping tabs on Target and have found out that while they don’t follow the SCOP right now, they will in the future. Just thought I would share that information with everyone!

    Katie

  4. Stephie June 4th, 2013

    In my area, who’s cheaper depends on what you need. Overall, I like Target better, it’s cleaner, better organized, and I don’t feel like I need a shower when I leave unlike going to Walmart which is dirty, messy, and not so well organized. They do have good deals sometimes though (Walmart) so I usually check there first. Prefer Target but get the real steals at Walmart.

  5. Cassie June 4th, 2013

    That’s good to know, Katie. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Mrs PoP June 4th, 2013

    In the US, Target wins hands down on personal care and cleaning products when you shop sales and coupons. Take a target coupon, a manufacturers coupon, a sale, and stack it with a “buy 2 get a $5 gift card deal” and you can end up with some pretty awesome savings. The best part, there’s definitely a timing to them that you can learn and buy enough to last between the best sales. And every couple months, stack them with a 5% off pharmacy rewards coupon and a red card and it gets even better.

    As for not allowing coupons > the price, I’ve found that to be pretty untrue. On a recent visit, I had a coupon for a free razor (up to $11), but the razor was on sale for $8. I got it, checked the receipt and the cashier had given me the full $11 off my order.

    Only downfall, Target doesn’t accept competitors coupons the way our supermarket does.

    Granted, I’m pretty much as far away from Canada as you can get and still be in the continental US, but Target’s a big win down here.

  7. john e June 4th, 2013

    A bunch of years ago, we lived in Houston Texas for a while. After the initial euphoria of “everything is so affordable” wore off, we found ourselves gravitating to the nearest Target for most of our household shopping. The non grocery stuff (like beach towels and kitchen gadgets) seemed nicer, and the store layout/merchandising had some appeal we could never quite explain. Going to Target seemed more pleasant, and we didn’t mind spending an extra $3 to avoid a longer drive in stop and go traffic when it was 95F with 99% humidity.

  8. Kim June 4th, 2013

    I live in Kamloops and we just got a new Target (in our family we call it Target:”tar-get – frenchified “ay” at the end). Have not tried yet and so glad you posted this – our Walmart Superstore is currently under construction as well. My hope is that Old Navy is not far off and maybe even American Eagle – meaning I can stop online clothes shopping or heading to Kelowna (ptui) all together. I will keep it in mind your findings when I do head to the big red store. Thanks for the post – sent it far and wide and expect some more devoted readers to your blog in response :)

  9. Vegas Chick June 4th, 2013

    when it comes to cost it’s worth going to target ….because Target has better customer service HANDSDOWN!

  10. Ping June 4th, 2013

    Walmart SuperCentre in Vancouver is awful! They don’t honour the SCOP. Item rung in at $17. It should be $10. Cashier called for Price Check. I didn’ trust them and went back to the Aisle to take the sign showing the price and item (poster was about 3 feet big!). The clerk took the sign down and said it’s now no longer $10 and will not SCOP. I left the store empty handed and the line up of cranky customers ended up being very long b/c of the wait of the price check.

  11. Carla June 4th, 2013

    Hahaha!! You are just a rebel at heart! ;) Great post, interesting findings. I don’t really shop at either stores much… i’d say 2-3 each a year. So i’m ok with that…

  12. Leslie June 4th, 2013

    I shunned WalMart before the arrival of Target, and will continue to do so now. I’m not comfortable with their history of violation of laws and contracts, in both Canada and other countries. In Canada they’ve been pretty aggressive about union-busting (and in stopping the CBC from covering it). In the US, they didn’t honour the terms of their employment contracts with their pharmacists, and were cited for violation of child labour laws (plus the most recent news that their low wages require a hefty taxpayer subsidy per store of almost $1M/year). In Mexico it was bribery of officials. Not the kind of behaviour I want to award with my consumer dollars……

  13. Michele L. June 4th, 2013

    I worked at Walmart for over 2 years and for a short time I was a Dept. Manager and I had to do the same exact thing that you were doing at our competitors. Isn’t it funny that they didn’t like what you were doing. Now you know why some of their prices are only $0.02 difference. I didn’t like that part of my job.

  14. Chris Corliss June 4th, 2013

    I wouldn’t care if WalMart was giving it away. I wouldn’t shop at a Walmart ever.

    Their employee policies suck and they refuse to support and care for the people in the poor countries that make their cheap stuff.

    What good is saving a few cents if you’ve sold your soul to WalMart in doing so.

  15. Richard June 4th, 2013

    I dropped into one of the new Target stores and I have to say I was less than impressed. They do not have the selection of the Zeller’s they replaced. I found the atmosphere cold and sterile (almost unwelcoming.
    There were almost no mens wear available for sale and what there was I wouldn’t have been caught dead in unless I frequented a “Blue Oyster Bar” (if you saw “Police Academy” you’ll get that).
    I may go look around once more after a while but there will need to be SERIOUS changes to the place before I’d EVER shop there.

  16. Christina June 4th, 2013

    FYI, I purchased 5 pairs of $5 Gilligan & O’Malley lace panties from Target within the last year and they were the poorest quality underwear I have ever bought. They started ripping and shredding in the washer within a month. I recently bought similar panties at Walmart (No Boundaries brand) for less than $3 each and they are holding up great so far.

  17. Anne Moon June 4th, 2013

    I do not shop at Walmart. They are ugly–they pay their staff badly and they decimate small town BC main streets.
    I like Target: there is no Musak, the aisles are big, the staff are pleasant, the goods are interesting and signage is excellent.

  18. Wendy Croom June 4th, 2013

    Interesting timing for this article – coming so soon after the Bangladesh tragedy. Last time I checked, neither Target nor Walmart had signed the treaty to establish basic safety standards to prevent such an event again. Until they do, I will not frequent either store. I have let them know that (through Facebook), but I doubt they care. There are too many people in the US (and I assume in Canada, as well) that don’t consider the true cost of their cheap “necessities.”

  19. Claire June 4th, 2013

    Appreciate the price comparison work!! As all of us are counting our pennies I think so much boils down to where you get the best customer service, ease of use in the store (ie finding things), being able to get in & out and your general perception of the facility. I would agree that our Target seems to look cleaner & more modern but I found that depended upon the department. One issue I have is that the newest TV ad for Target in our area (CO) is completely in Spanish. Last time I checked the official language in the United States is English. Just saying….

  20. Jessica F June 4th, 2013

    I would love to see a comparison on Target vs Walmart own brand comparison. I just bought some Up & Up Diapers and generic Tylenol/Advil at Target and I’m pretty sure it was cheaper than the own brand at Walmart.

    You’re right on when you note that personal care items are less. When we lived in the US we always bought all those items at Target rather than the grocery store or drug store.

  21. christel June 4th, 2013

    @ Claire: actually, the USA does not have an official language.

    Kerry, thanks for the price comparisons. I have been to my new Target and really like it (esp the Starbucks), but had this perception that it was more expensive than Walmart. But that could be because it is nicer, cleaner, newer, and oh my gosh, the salespeople are friendly. Maybe the staff in Walmart are generally surly because their employer treats them poorly.

  22. Jocelan June 4th, 2013

    To me Target isn’t worth all the hype,I,m sure not going out my way to shop there.
    Jocelan

  23. Sylvia June 4th, 2013

    What is with the Mullet Skirt?? Love your name for it. Re:Walmart I Love a Challenge. I’m going there tomorrow with my iPhone! Maybe with a Tape Measure Too!!!

  24. Suzanne June 4th, 2013

    What I noticed when shopping at Target – the interaction between staff and the consumer at the checkout. Each time the cashier has engaged me in conversation. Things like “these towels are so soft.” I came away feeling great about my purchases!

  25. Carey June 4th, 2013

    The mullet skirt is like the haircut – longer in the back than in the front

  26. Mrs. Vallejos June 4th, 2013

    I’m sure Walmarts vary from location to location. The one nearest me… it’s always a mess. Long lines, merchandise all over the floor, the laundry aisle smells so strongly of soap my eyes start watering. What they offer, while it may be on sale, is often cheaply made. The greeters should offer gas masks. And speaking of staff – they all look so tired (perhaps it’s the out of date fluorescent lighting) that they seem to look right past you. Very sad.

    Target, on the other hand – very attractive. Nice layout. Everything is kept neatly. What they have for sale seems to be of much better quality than at Walmart. Perhaps that’s because everything is well lit. And the staff is very friendly and helpful.

    So, yes, I could save money at Walmart, I suppose. But if I start breaking out in a sweat just thinking about the place (and I haven’t even gotten to their politics yet) is it really worth the trouble?

  27. jim June 4th, 2013

    Here’s another plus for WalMart that Target doesn’t have. WalMart has peopleofwalmart.com

    There is no peopleoftarget.com

    Target doesn’t allow you to feel better about yourself by simply shopping there LOL !

  28. terri ann June 4th, 2013

    Thanks for doing shopping legwork, Kerry. I don’t really like either store, probably because I live in Vancouver and neither store is that conveniently located. I still like Costco. A lot of the US/Canada price discrepancies have diminished. Quality is usually up to snuff as well, saving me valuable time and money.

  29. Carol S June 4th, 2013

    Hi, Kerry, thanks for the investigation. Great work!

    You’ve just proven that I should skip BOTH Target and Walmart and shop at the CANADIAN stores in my neighbourhood, NoFrills for grocery and Shoppers Drug Mart for personal care. You can always get 12 eggs for well under $3 at NoFrills (usually $2.69), and I have hit, 4 weeks in a row, 50% off regular prices at SDM on personal care stuff I use all the time. So I’m getting my favourite shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and body wash for $2.99 to $3.99 each, instead of $7.00 to $8.00 each.

    I also have an “Optimum” card for Shoppers that lets me get “free” stuff once I have reached the first minimum points level. A little way to go there, but… I can do it.

  30. Amber June 4th, 2013

    My mom was visiting when the Target in Delta opened so we went to check it out. We found a couple deals and the store was bright and clean but I wasn’t overly impressed. Some things were more expensive then London Drugs or Walmart. I’d been hoping to find some interesting clothes at good prices but when I asked where their plus sizes were they said “Oh we don’t carry those. Maybe in the future.” I won’t be going back any time soon.

  31. Stephanie June 4th, 2013

    I’m guilty of NOT comparison shopping. I haven’t been to Walmart in years, and do most grocery shopping at one grocery store, and sometimes buy stuff at Target or at the drug store. I really should do some of those comparison shops to see which store tends to have better deals. You’ve inspired me! :)

  32. Heather Lei June 4th, 2013

    We used to be big Target supporters, we even had the card. Then they refused to honor coupons that they sent us, wouldn’t do an exchange on a defective item bought with a coupon (they wanted to charge us full price), refused to let us exchange duplicates we received off our wedding registry because we didn’t have gift receipts, and to top it off accused my husband of trying to get away with coupon fraud. I will say that the manager sided with us on that one, but after three different horrible transactions at three different locations we decided to shop Walmart.

    At Walmart we have never had a hard time returning things, no matter what our reason for returning was and no one has called us liars. A nice young man who worked there even went to the back and washed and sliced an apple for my children after hearing them ask for one.

    I should add that when I sent an e-mail of complaint to Target stating that I will never shop there again I got a form letter back that addressed none of the points I’d made in my letter and said that they hoped my next experience would be better. Walmart is the clear winner for us. Good customer service and good policies matter over here.

  33. June Rei June 5th, 2013

    I despise Walmart and have been keenly waiting for Target to open their new stores here. I recall a couple of occasions at the till when the Walmart clerks said they couldn’t do something or they would be immediately fired. One was about lifting a label to verify how many casters were inside a taped shut plastic drawer; can’t remember the other now. I find it shocking how they treat their employees and disallow unions to form. On the other hand, I recall an occasion at Walmart when all the lineups at the tills were very long and slow moving. I was surprised when an employee came up to me and invited me to take my load of potential purchases to the jewelry counter for faster service. There were two employees behind the counter having a gabfest. One refused to serve me because she was “on her break” and the other was from another dept “just visiting.” I had given up my place in a long lineup for this! Needless to say, I dumped my merchandise and left the store. I figured there couldn’t have been a manager around to speak to if the employees were behaving like this. Hurry up Target!

  34. Andrew June 5th, 2013

    I can’t believe anybody still shops at Walmart! They obviously don’t care about people either as workers or sweatshop drones. I’ve never been to a Target and won’t go out of my way to visit. Let’s face it, they just want the money out of your pocket in any way they can get it. Talk about lack of compassion!

  35. Veronica June 5th, 2013

    I do not shop at Walmart due to their treatment of workers in their stores or the factories they use to make their cheap stuff. They also just got banged for environmental abuse!

  36. aka June 5th, 2013

    Andrew, you can’t believe anybody still shops at Walmart??? Hmmmm, I’ll tell you why I shop there. I am on an extremely fixed income. Because they have some of the lowest prices out there, because they price match and because they take coupons, I have literally saved thousands, not hundreds, but thousands of dollars over the last few years of me shopping there. I can’t even begin to tell you all the products that I have purchased that were “free” (once I used the coupons). Perhaps money is not an issue for you but I have to look out for myself and my family. Provide them with food and shelter and I for one am extremely thankful that Walmart exists.

  37. beth June 5th, 2013

    Who treats their employee’s better? TARGET.

    The US spends $900,000 per store on food stamps for full time employees of Walmart who don’t make enough to live on.

    Beyond those two: COSTCO! Their staff make $45,000, have full health care and their CEO makes much less than Walmart CEO.

  38. Lynn C Behnke June 5th, 2013

    Thanks for the comparison. Since reading the Big Box Swindle, I won’t shop at Wal-Mart, but I always thought Target was so upscale to be unaffordable. I’ll give it another look.

  39. World Citizen June 5th, 2013

    I can’t believe that Squawkfox is proposing that people shop at either of these locations. They are both terrible global citizens–Walmart for how it treats people directly, and both for how they support the terrible treatment of people and the environment around the world so they can provide the “cheapest” goods to a comparatively “rich” Western consumer. Your readers think they’re on a fixed income? They need to go to Chiapas or Hanoi and see how poor live in this world.

    I have enjoyed your column before now, but I am unfollowing. How about teaching people how to buy responsibly, instead of just cheaply? I am on an extremely fixed income (more than 20% below the poverty line in the US), and I avoid both of these stores. Buy second-hand, go without, save up for purchases. This is the way to go, not “I want it and I am broke, so I deserve it as cheaply as possible.” If it is food or medication that you need, get food stamps and affordable care act.

    Someone always pays for these cheap goods, and it is selfish and irresponsible to say, well as long as it isn’t me, who cares? In Bangladesh, we saw how people paid for Westerners’ cheap t-shirts and jeans… And South America is suffering so that Walmart and Target can offer cheap coffee. This demand for cheap goods is one of the most irresponsible demands to support. In the US, Canada, W. Europe, we have forgotten that “want” does not equal “need.”

    I am ashamed of you, Squawkfox.

  40. Ruth Cooke June 5th, 2013

    Um.

    In my neck of the woods, milk is $3.97 at most of the discount grocery stores (No Frills and Food Basics), giving a fifty cent advantage to the grocery stores right off the bat. I don’t buy food at Wal-Mart or Target at all–from looking at the ads each week, I find them to be more expensive over-all than either of those two grocery stores. Feminine products and laundry detergent and such-like are also comparable in price.

    I don’t buy make up at all, and I buy my shampoo and conditioner at the dollar store or the grocery store, for a savings over either store of at least 50%. Believe it or not, the major differences between brands of shampoo are due to fragrances and colourings added, and how much water there is compared to soap. This from chemical technician friends who worked in the factories where this stuff is made.

    The main reason I shop at Wal-Mart is that they have clothing in my size. My one foray into our brand new Target turned up nothing at all in the women’s plus sizes.

    And as for the aisles, it may be just your Wal-Mart–ours has aisles wide enough to drive a scooter down, and they provide the scooters, which is why my mother (formerly a Wal-Mart non-shopper) likes to shop there now.

    To make the story short, though, if you really want to save money, buy your groceries at a grocery store, with a list, and pare all that other nonsense down to necessities. You’ve already shown that disposables are not the cheap way to go with diapers, and you really, truly don’t need tons of junk to make yourself beautiful (after 52 years of no makeup, my skin is just fine, thank you!).

  41. Kathi Bridge June 5th, 2013

    Hi Kerry,
    What a great detailed article, thanks! I find I go to Walmart more because at this point, I know the store better. I did check out the new Target here in Vernon, and I have to say, I do like their clothes. I have a daughter who is seven and they had some really cute Roots clothing I’m going to pick up. I find Walmart is terrible for kids clothes, and I cannot stand the women’s Joe products at Super Save Store.
    Glad to hear that both have comparable prices, save for infant stuff, which I am thankfully past! Cheers Kathi

  42. Pierce R June 5th, 2013

    I despise the Walmart corporation entirely. These savings you’ve mentioned are nice I would still pay a higher price, just to keep my sanity. I am big fan of Target I am there at least 2-3 times a week (I tend to forget things but it’s OK since I live 4 minutes away) many of the employees recognize me and always greet me when I come in the door. They are usually within reach if I need help with something. I haven’t shopped at Walmart in years and I never will again. When I did shop there the employees never wanted to assist customers had attitudes and were disrespectful as well. Most of the time they’re never around to help. I live in north central Florida and the Walmart Supercenters here are disgusting. It’s like a hang out for the young children whose parents don’t have childcare. Another thing I don’t agree with is the way they treat their employees. I know some people who work there and they say they’re treated like slaves, terminated by their superiors just for kicks. I’d say don’t pad the wallets of the Walton family who is by far one of America’s wealthiest families. Sam Walton is probably spinning in his grave many time over.

  43. Lisa June 5th, 2013

    Thanks for the comparison. When I went to our newly opened Target, I used one of their motorized carts. In most departments I was unable to get through without hitting a display or rack. The worst was in the clothing and shoe departments. I know seniors with walkers are also having difficulties getting around.
    I will definitely be sticking with Wal-Mart. I do price matching and couponing. I have been to donate personal supplies to charities in my city by getting items for ‘free’.

  44. Wendy Croom June 5th, 2013

    Bravo, World Citizen. Well said. And for all of you who buy clothes at either of these establishments, remember people are dying so that you can save a few bucks. Makes me sick to my stomach every time I think about it.

  45. Jenn P June 5th, 2013

    We don’t live anywhere near a Target or a Walmart, but I have shopped at both stores online. I’m curious to know which one is a better buy for online shopping. Were the only comparisons you ran from actual in-store shopping? Both stores send out online offers like $5 off $50 and free shipping on most items or on a total over $50… just wondering if you could tell us which one is the smarter one to shop online.

  46. Melinda J. June 6th, 2013

    We are Americans living in Canada, so I’ve been to both stores. I definitely prefer Target over Walmart any day for many reasons. My husband doesn’t want me shopping at Walmart because of their company’s policies. But, yes, I love the Starbucks over McD’s, the wider and cleaner aisles, the friendlier staff, etc. The clothes are cute as well. I cannot wait for Target to open here in Charlottetown, PE. Thanks for doing the actual price comparisons for us!!!

  47. Clarity June 6th, 2013

    What World Citizen said. If this is the kind of shopping that you endorse and analyze I have obviously terribly misunderstood what you are about. My bad…

  48. Anthony June 6th, 2013

    You are lucky. You have SCOP. Here in Philippines, I had miserable experience with Park and Shop Davao, Handyman under Robinsons, and SM Department store on their pricing. There are a few times their tags don’t match their scanning code. And there is a bad practice on most of our groceries, with haphazard pricing tags on the shelves.

    By the way, Park and Shop Davao is not affiliated with the international “Park & Shop”.

  49. Anon Mom June 7th, 2013

    My son works at a Canadian Walmart. While the employees at his store are generally treated fairly, he’s only gotten a ten cent raise after a year and a half. And they apparently have a policy of not giving references out. It’s an all right place to work while he’s in school but once he’s done he’s out of there. Reference or no reference.

  50. Anon Mom June 7th, 2013

    Forgot to post that at his store they will direct people to a certain department if there are long lineups, but there’s always at least two people working in a department so I don’t think they would refuse service to anyone.

  51. Thomas June 7th, 2013

    My wife swears that Walmart is cheaper but that Target is cleaner but funny she never really goes to either.

  52. Donna June 11th, 2013

    Recently, Wal-Mart pleaded guilty to criminal charges of dumping hazardous fertilizers and chemicals in California and Missouri. Wal-Mart must pay $81.6 million in fines for violating the Clean Water Act and other E.P.A. regulations. That fine is less than one tenth of one percent of the profits Wal-Mart made in 2012 alone. So, after criminally dumping chemicals in 16 California counties for years, Wal-Mart can simply write off the fine as a cost of doing business.

    Kind of makes you think twice if saving a few dollars is worth supporting this kind of ignorant, arrogant behaviour.

  53. Angela June 13th, 2013

    Agree with World Citizen. Where are your values Kerry? People pay for cheap prices through corporations paying their workers peanuts … then low paid workers complain that they need to shop at cheap places because they don’t earn enough to live. What kind of society do you want your child to grow up in? When Zellers closed down in my area and Target took over, the workers at Target were paid less than Zellers and they lost benefits. I’m on a very low income too but I shop at local farmers markets, second hand stores and am really conscious about where I spend my money so that as much as possible it stays in the community supporting local people – not large corporations with dismal records on workers conditions, rights and the environment (mother nature also pays a price for cheap stuff). How you spend your money says a lot about your values and what kind of society you want to live in – what are your values Kerry?

  54. Carole June 20th, 2013

    After the Zellers in my area closed because Target didn’t want this store, all the workers lost their jobs. Then in the news Target let 50,000 Zeller’s employees go without their jobs. I will not ever shop Target. As for Walmart, it too is an american store and I stay out of it.

  55. Hollie Pollard July 18th, 2013

    You know Kerry I shop both, and photograph inside both with no issues ever here in Toronto. I blog at least once a month about the stores so much so the Agency Walmart deals with asks me what I am writing about.

    For me it is a toss up, but the advantage for now is going to Walmart as it is a 5 minute walk away but for Gluten Free heads up goes to Target. By the way since you are moving hit me up for the best places to buy Gluten free locally.

  56. Passerby August 18th, 2013

    American here, just thought I’d share some tidbits about these companies operate South of the border (I’ve worked in both and still shop in Target):
    a) Neither care about photographs in the US – I openly take pictures of products on shelves (usually to text “Do we need this?”) and never gotten so much as a raised eyebrow.
    b) Walmart doesn’t practice coupon overage here. I’m crazy jealous right now.
    c) Our Walmarts do the exact same kind of “low” pricing. “We’re the cheapest in town! By almost 3 whole cents.”

    Thanks for pointing out the difference in ambiance/style between the two Big Boxes. It’s an impossible thing to quantify, but it makes a huge difference to me in where to shop.

  57. Barbara September 21st, 2013

    How do these stores compare to the Real Canadian Superstore and Joe Fresh? You know your life has changed when you shop where you can get your food and clothing at the same stop.

  58. Anthony September 24th, 2013

    Target definitely. Great designs, adequate prices, redcard savings, and I support their decision to not accept coupon overage. I know people think stores make money off of coupons, which is half true, but the reality is that there are people who abuse that right to overage and end up scamming the system with multiple coupons and coming back later to return the items demanding full price. Youch! Another thing this article did not mention was Target’s willingness to match prices with competitors or their friendly service

  59. Etal September 25th, 2013

    Very well researched and written. There are some differences between Canada and the U.S.. I can’t speak for Target, but as a Walmart cashier in the U.S., I can tell you this:
    1.) Obviously, in the U.S. we don’t participate in the Canadian SCOP program. We do have something different called Price Validity. If an item rings up different from the shelf price, the cashier will void out the scanned item and override the scan with the correct price. Up to $3.00 more will also be automatically deducted, but not to exceed the price of the item.
    2.) Walmart in the U.S. does Price Matching on competitor’s currently active ads. We have copies of the ads, so the customer doesn’t need to bring the ad in. Certain restrictions apply. We do not match internet ads, has to be an advertisment with a specific price (not 30% off), and match the same unit type (if we sell oranges for EACH we cannot price match a competitor that sells their oranges PER POUND). The ad item must match regarding size, type, brand, etc. Levi jeans are not the same as Wrangler jeans. However, generic type items, like apples, cuts of meat, eggs, etc. can be matched. If a competitor calls their New York Strip steak Rancher’s New York steak — it’s the same thing. There was no special recipie or process to distinct it from other New York steaks.
    XXXXX
    christel June 4th, 2013 @ Claire: actually, the USA does not have an official language.

    Yes, America on a federal level does not have an official language, however, almost all of the individual states have had English as their official language for decades and a few over a hundred years, which is honored and recognized by the federal government as the state’s right to enforce.

  60. Kat October 8th, 2013

    I only shop at stores that I believe to be ethical (I try to do my best to research before hand). I don’t need tons of clothes, of course, but I browse consignment and thrift stores (Salvation Army or the Mennonite Center), and I eat simply (vegan with celiacs disease – but I don’t eat many packaged foods, aside from frozen veggies if they count. I make my own hummus, and make shakes and smoothies). I make home made toiletries, often – use olive oil for skin and for hair masks, and a good quality not-tested on animals shampoo. I buy way less than most people, but I make sure that if I buy something I either REALLY need it – or it’s a rare treat. I love music, so if I have a little left over, I purchase new strings or sheet music for my violin. Luckily, most of my favourite things are low cost or free: studying and reading, walking in the woods, bird watching, listening to music, watching shows on Project Free TV. :) I also love the creative spirit that you get with thrift store shopping for things. The only ‘box’ store I shop at is Ikea, but I’ve never heard anything negative about how they treat their workers.

  61. Mark November 26th, 2013

    I will gladly pay the price difference at Target. The Walmart were I live does not open all the cash registers when it’s busy.

    The one day I walked up to the head cashier and asked her to get some one to put the groceries I had my basket away. When she asked why because there was no way I was going to stand in the line up and especially when half the registers were closed.

    Walmart needs to get rid of the “greeters” and get some cashiers.

  62. Raymond November 29th, 2013

    Wal-Mart gets a lot of attention for low pay. It seems that Target pays exactly the same (Wal-Mart pays slightly more for basic jobs and slightly less for managerial jobs). Other companies on 10 least-paying companies: Macy, Starbucks, McDonalds, Sears, Kroger.

    By the way, when I lived in Houston, Wal-Mart was winning over Target hands down (better prices, better choices, great fresh food). After shopping at both, I stopped going to Target.

  63. Michael D. December 23rd, 2013

    Interesting article; I did a google search for a comparison while doing a last minute soul-search before Christmas trying to figure out what kind of gift card to get for a pleasant neighbour. More curious about selection than prices but the article was interesting.

    I’m more intrigued by the manager’s reaction to the camera phone. I can see his point, to be honest. Not from a standpoint of not permitting people to comparison shop, but from a general and growing fatigue and aversion to cameras in general. I remember very keenly being made to read Orwell in high school in 1986 or so, and seeing the movie version of ’1984′ and thinking the Big Brother stuff was a lot of paranoia. What is more chilling now is that we are cutting off our own privacy so willingly.

    I was in a local bargain store this summer because you can sometimes get rare used books there for dirt cheap. Someone had a video camera set up outside. I had an irrational fear of being photographed shopping there for some reason, despite the fact they were filming some skit or something else that had nothing to do with the shoppers coming and going.

    I think this ongoing fatigue and nervousness around cameras will get worse the more aggressive – or perhaps oblivious – device users are to those around them. That includes people texting while driving, iPod users on public transit that can be heard from 30 thirty feet away, cell-phone gabbers, and yes, avid photographers who shoot pictures in public despite the discomfort and sensibilities of others.

  64. Wendy Croom December 26th, 2013

    Google “Bangladesh tradegy” and then repost.

  65. Ed Saab March 5th, 2014

    target Canada has no future. I’m not wasting my time going there. Empty shelves, rude management, no stock, no service. I mean, if you advertise something in the flyer and it is not in the store why to advertise it? me and two other customers got stock at the same time with the same excuse.

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