Where Should You Shop: Walmart or Target?

OPINION

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Comparing Walmart and Target

By Claire Deal

Walmart and Target are massive corporations that sell an overwhelming variety of goods. These stores have grown considerably since they were founded. Both stores promote low prices, as Target’s slogan is “Expect More, Pay Less,” and Walmart’s is “Save Money, Live Better.” Walmart has more than 5,000 stores and clubs nationwide, and Target is smaller, at 1,816.

There are six different types of Walmarts: regular Walmart; supercenters, which are Walmarts that include a full grocery store; neighborhood, or express Walmarts, which are about one-fifth the size of super-centers; convenience stores; Walmarts on campus, located on or near college campuses; Sam’s Club warehouses; and discount Walmarts, which can vary in size. Target has two variations of the regular Target. The first are smaller Targets that are mainly located in densely populated areas, and the second is Super Target, which includes a full grocery store.

As of 2014, “239 SuperTarget stores are in operation nationwide. There are also 1,683 regular Target stores. Together, these stores contain 1,519 pharmacies, 325 optical centers, 186 portrait studios and 28 health clinics.” At the end of 2016, Walmart said that it operates 4,177 stores in the U.S., excluding its Sam’s Club warehouse club footprint. Among them are 3,275 supercenters, which average about 182,000 square feet. There are three Walmart supercenters, one neighborhood Walmart, and two regular Walmarts in the Richmond metro area. There are five regular Targets and no Super Targets.

To do some comparison shopping, I recently went to a normal Target in Midlothian, which included a limited selection of groceries, and a Walmart super-center on Parham Road that does include a full assortment of groceries (comparable to Kroger). Walmart offers a more diverse range in size and offers more locations compared to Target. The goal of going to each store was to see who offered the best deals, quality, and variation. I looked at food, different types of clothing, home goods, and Christmas decorations.

Food

Although Target lacked the variety of a full grocery store, they still had a decent selection of packaged and frozen goods. I would definitely recommend grocery shopping at Walmart over Target, because Target lacked fresh produce. In terms of price, Target was overall more expensive.  

Business Insider did a full report last fall comparing the two stores’ food prices in Richmond, finding that, “Target charges about 15% more than Walmart for groceries, according to a recent price check.” Hayley Peterson, the author of the report, purchased 31 of the same goods of the same amount from Target and from Walmart. She concluded 22 out of 31 items were cheaper at Walmart. She also stated that “the Target fresh produce department featured a lot of empty shelf space that we didn’t see at Walmart.” Overall, I would recommend shopping for groceries at Walmart. As it is the largest grocery store chain in the United States, Walmart offered more selection and overall better pricing for the same quality.

Clothing

Target has a better selection for higher quality clothes. Margaux Gaeser (‘19) agreed that products at Target “are made better and are higher quality.” In my experience, until researching for this article, I had never considered buying clothes from Walmart, but I went to Target frequently to check out their new arrivals.

The first item I decided to compare were women’s winter coats. Target had over nine different winter coats, ranging in style, color, and heaviness. It is possible Walmart has a better online selection, yet there was only one winter coat in the store when I went. The quality of Target’s jackets were much higher than Walmart’s one jacket. Target’s jackets were made of a thicker material. The hardware on each jacket looked nicer, unlike Walmart, where it felt cheaply made. Additionally, the Target jackets were more intricate and fashionable compared to the plain and simplistic jacket at Walmart. I also noticed that the hangers at Target were better quality, and the size was stated on the hanger, which made it easier to find the size you were looking for. As a whole, Target’s women’s clothing section was more organized. Walmart had clothes piled up everywhere, several pieces of clothing on the floor, and pieces of clothing that were in the wrong section or rack.

Target

Walmart

The next article of clothing I compared was women’s athletic leggings. Walmart’s display of their leggings was very messy and made it difficult to find the size and style of leggings I wanted. On the other hand, Target had a more professional display of leggings that resembles something you would find in a sporting goods store like Dick’s. I was, however, surprised by the quality of Walmart’s leggings. They were well-made for the inexpensive price of $12.96.

Target                                                         

Walmart

The last clothing items I compared were onesies and tacky Christmas sweaters, in the spirit of Collegiate’s Brunch. The quality didn’t vary much between the two stores. Target had a better selection of onesies that weren’t Christmas-themed, but Walmart had a better selection of tacky Christmas sweaters and Christmas onesies. I preferred Walmart’s display of onesies because you could see it in its entirety, instead of the just the side of it, like at Target.

Target price: $27.99

Walmart price: $19.98

Home Decor

The items at Target were more expensive; however, each item included more intricacy and resembled something found in a home decor store. The selection at Target was subpar. Most of the shelves at Target were picked over and had not been restocked. Walmart’s shelves, however, were completely filled. Walmart’s home decor was appeared a bit tacky and cheaply made. Walmart’s bathroom accessories, like soap dispensers, were around $6, and Target’s were around $13. At Target, you are paying for a more aesthetically pleasing soap dispenser, but if you are just looking for a basic soap dispenser to get the job done, go to Walmart. The presentation at Target was also more appealing. The rugs were lined up in an organized fashion, whereas at Walmart the rugs were thrown into a small area, so you couldn’t see all of the options, and some of the rugs in the back were less accessible.

Target

Walmart

Christmas Decorations

The holidays are quickly approaching, and people are looking for the best decorations and prices. Target has a sufficient amount of ornaments, lights, outdoor decorations, and fake trees. However, it is nothing compared to the mini-winter wonderland at Walmart. The prices of the large cylinders of round ornaments were about the same at both stores, but Walmart had better deals on fake trees. You could get a 7.5 foot tree at Walmart for $179, but at Target a 7.5 foot tree ranged from $299.99-$359.99. Walmart also had a much larger selection of ornaments and wreaths. There were entire aisles dedicated to wreaths for doors, individual ornaments, outdoor light-up decorations, and more. Because price and quality were fairly even, I would recommend both places.

Target

Walmart

Overall, both Walmart and Target are reputable stores if you want to buy a variety of items in one place. Walmart is larger and has more selection, but sometimes the quality is lacking. Walmart is also extremely overwhelming, and I had difficulty finding the things I needed. However the employees were very helpful in helping me find everything. Target, by contrast, is smaller, so it is easier to find things, but there is sometimes a lack of selection. The Walmart corporation is growing because they keep expanding their range of items. The Walmart Supercenter includes sections for fishing and outdoor sports, home improvement, gardening, a bank, and a hair salon.

Choosing which store is better is difficult, because they are two completely different shopping experiences. Target is calm and organized, whereas sometimes Walmart can feel chaotic and overwhelming. In Walmart, you can truly buy it all, and that can save you from having to go several places when running errands. However, I usually end up going to more specialized stores. If I am going to undertake a home improvement project, I am going to to go to Lowe’s, because the entire store is dedicated to that area, and they have a more knowledgeable staff. I also shop at each store for different goods. I buy clothing and decor at Target, but at Walmart I buy seasonal clothing, such as Halloween costumes or Christmas sweaters. Upper School Associate Director of Student Life Missy Herod says she shops at both stores equally. At Walmart, she buys “bird seed, garden supplies, and hair care,” and at Target she buys “school decor, cards, pillows, and linens.”

Although both stores have their strengths, I would ultimately choose Target, because it is higher quality and more organized. 

All photos by Claire Deal.

About the author

Claire Deal is a junior at Collegiate.