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All Contents © 2017The Kiplinger Washington Editors
By Cameron Huddleston, Online Editor
| October 2014
Courtesy Mike Mozart via Flickr/Creative Commons
Walmart is known for saving shoppers money -- often lots of money. It’s tough to beat the prices the world’s largest retailer charges on most things it sells, and it sells almost everything: food, clothing, electronics, housewares, furniture, auto supplies, prescription drugs, and so on. You name it, and Walmart probably stocks it.
However, we did find a few products that can be purchased elsewhere for less. We compared regular (non-sale) prices at two Walmart stores with several of its competitors’ regular prices. After also taking into account price-comparison research conducted by Web sites that specialize in finding deals, we identified 11 types of items that are generally cheaper at retailers other than Walmart.
We checked prices on a variety of toys and games -- from Lego sets to Monopoly to an Easy Bake Oven – and found that Amazon beat Walmart by several dollars on all of the items except one (which was the same price at both retailers). For example, a Transformers 16-inch action figure was $7 less on Amazon than at Walmart and was eligible for free two-day shipping to Amazon Prime members. (Amazon Prime costs $99 a year and includes perks other than free shipping, such as free streaming music, movies and TV shows.) Research by DealNews.com also shows that Amazon has had the highest volume of deals and sales on toys and games so far this year (through Oct. 15).
It’s hard to top the price on Walmart’s store-brand diapers ($19.77 for a box of 144). But if you prefer brand names, such as Pampers, Huggies or Luvs, Amazon’s prices are lower -- especially for Amazon Prime members who sign up for the free Amazon Mom program to save 20% on recurring deliveries of diapers. The price difference per diaper is small -- about three cents to eight cents, depending on the brand -- but a few pennies can add up to big bucks as you go through hundreds of diapers.
A recent survey of prices on 37 standard grocery items by Cheapism.com, a Web site that seeks out the best cheap products, found that discount grocer Aldi beat Walmart’s prices by 15%. When we independently checked regular prices at both stores, prepackaged ground beef was among the items that we found for less at Aldi than at Walmart. In fact, ground beef was $1 less per pound at Aldi.
Walmart recently started selling Wild Oats brand organic packaged foods at the same price as similar non-organic brand foods and at least 25% less than brand-name organic competitors. However, Walmart shoppers still have to pay a premium for fresh organic fruits and vegetables. We found that Aldi and Trader Joe’s consistently beat Walmart’s prices on organic fruits and vegetables. For example, a pint of organic grape tomatoes was about $1.50 less at Aldi than at Walmart. A 6-ounce package of organic spinach was more than $1 less at Trader Joe’s than a 5-ounce package at Walmart.
Both Aldi and Trader Joe’s beat Walmart’s price on organic milk. A half-gallon of organic milk was about 30 cents less at Aldi than at Walmart. A gallon of organic milk was about 50 cents less at Trader Joe’s than at Walmart. We’ve even found organic milk for less at upscale grocer Whole Foods.
You won’t find everyday low prices on nuts and seeds at Walmart. The better deals are at Aldi and Trader Joe’s, both of which beat Walmart’s prices by about $1 on various types of nuts and seeds. For example, a one-pound bag of walnuts was $6.59 at Aldi versus $7.48 at Walmart. Whole almonds were nearly $1.50 more per pound at Walmart than at Trader Joe’s.
You typically can find gift cards for a variety of restaurants and retailers sold at the checkout in Walmart stores. If you want, say, a $50 Olive Garden gift card, you’ll pay $50. But you can find discounted gift cards at sites such as Gift Card Granny, which shows the best deals from several gift card brokers. When we checked, a $50 Olive Garden gift card was selling for $42.48, 15% off face value, plus shipping was free.
Supermarkets tend to have high markups on batteries. So does Walmart. You’ll do better by buying batteries in bulk at a warehouse club. For example, Duracell AA batteries cost nearly twice as much per battery at Walmart than at Costco ($10.97 for a pack of 16 versus $14.99 for a pack of 40).
We found several items commonly sold at dollar stores also selling for $1 at Walmart, but gift bags and wrapping paper were not among them. In fact, gift bags cost as much as $4.97 at Walmart, and a roll of wrapping paper was $3.97. Both items can be found at dollar stores for just a buck.
Amazon beat Walmart’s prices on all but one of the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Xbox 360 games we checked – and the price difference was significant in some cases. For example, “Call of Duty: Ghosts” for Xbox 360 was $17 less on Amazon than at Walmart. Although Xbox One and Xbox 360 consoles were the same price at both retailers, the PlayStation 4 console was $50 less on Amazon than at Walmart.
According to Kristin Cook, managing editor of deals Web site Ben’s Bargains, Amazon and Best Buy often beat Walmart on Blu-ray DVD prices. We found that to be the case for the DVD prices we checked. For example, the “Transformers: Age of Extinction” Blu-ray DVD was $17.99 on Amazon versus $29.96 at Walmart.
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