Target vs Walmart: Who's the pricing champ?

Posted at 10:45 AM, Aug 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-26 12:45:45-04

DENVER - Target’s recent woes on Wall Street has consumers and analysts pondering why Target is tumbling.

It's prompted the question: Is Target really that off on prices?

Everybody likes to save money, even if it’s just a couple of cents. That may be why one the nation’s largest retailer is struggling.

Target Corp. cut its profit forecast and a key sales outlook last week as it saw fewer customers in its stores. 

Target struggled to get its grocery offerings right and shoppers looking for deals on essentials like detergent were turned off. 

Denver7 wanted to find out if the Minneapolis-based retailer is competitive in the grocery aisle. We checked prices at both Target and Walmart.

We created a 26-item list before hitting the stores. The prices in this comparison were checked on Thursday August 25. We visited the Target store in Sheridan and the Walmart location on Hampden Avenue in Englewood.

The basics are there, like bread and milk, but items on the list are just a small fraction of what a busy family might purchase on a typical grocery trip.

What did we find out?

It might not be a surprise to most savvy shoppers, but Walmart came out ahead - but only by a few dollars. Our total at the nation’s largest retailer (before tax) came to $78.76. Target, on the other hand, was $80.68 - that’s a difference of just a $1.92.

Another disclaimer: Some of the items we compared on our list were on sale at Target, so the difference would be a few dollars more if the items on the list were purchased on a different date.

Walmart beats ‘em by pennies

Walmart not only came out the pricing champ, it was the low price leader on virtually every item we compared to Target’s non-sale regular price - however we’re talking pennies here.

Walmart shoppers may know the retailer never prices anything ending in .99. They often price their products just a couple cents off the dollar, like a box of Oreos for $2.98. Target sells the same box of cookies for $2.99.

Although the price differences on the items we compared often came down to a few cents, some things on our list had wider price gaps. Beef for instance was more than 30 percent higher at Target. 

Variety is the spice of life

Another reason people may be choosing Walmart over Target is the selection offered at the Arkansas-based retailer.

One of things we noticed during our price comparison is that Walmart’s aisles appeared to be fuller and offered more of a selection than Target. While Target appeared cleaner and more organized. 

Target reported net income for the quarter of $680 million, or $1.16 per share. That compares with $753 million, or $1.18 per share, a year earlier. Adjusted per-share earnings were $1.23, beating projections of $1.14 from Wall Street, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research. Revenue fell 7 percent to $16.2 billion.


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