27 Things You Should Never Buy at Walmart
You and your wallet can do better.
Though Walmart claims to save families some $2,500 a year, it isn’t always the best place for buying bargain goods. Like many other big retailers, the savings superstore sells everything from drones to diapers—and while some of their supply is worth stocking up on, other items can be found at better prices without even having to look all that hard.
So, with that in mind, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of items you should never, ever buy at Walmart, all in the name of saving you money—and making sure you get the best product possible.
Meat and Fish
Walmart customers have many things to say about the store’s grocery section—and for the most part, their comments are less than complimentary. When Consumer Reports surveyed more than 50,000 people about their food shopping habits and preferences, they found that Walmart was “by far the most complained-about purveyor of groceries” and that “about 74 percent of Walmart shoppers had at least one complaint about the national discounter.” Among the most common complaints? The quality of the meat and poultry—which sounds entirely unappetizing.
If you do buy your supplements at Walmart, just make sure you aren’t picking up the generic versions. Not too long ago, the New York Attorney General’s office released a statement revealing that several major retailers—including Walmart—were selling store-brand herbal supplement products that “either could not be verified to contain the labeled substance, or which were found to contain ingredients not listed on the labels.”
It’s important to invest in high-quality luggage that isn’t at risk of falling apart in the middle of your flight. And that’s far from what you can expect should you purchase your portmanteau at Walmart. According to a survey conducted by Consumer Reports, the superstore ranks along with Target, Ross, Sears, and Burlington Coat Factory as one of the worst places to buy luggage. Instead, the survey participants recommended the bags found at REI, Luggage pros, Amazon, L.L.Bean, or eBags.com.
Seeing as Walmart customers don’t have anything nice to say about the store’s poultry and meat departments, it comes as little surprise that the produce department isn’t all that revered, either. In fact, according to Consumer Reports‘ grocery store survey, Walmart ranked right next to Target at the bottom of the list of stores with the best produce. Both received abysmal scores for the quality and variety of the produce they offer.
Though Walmart does sell HDTVs at a discount, they are only able to offer such deals because the quality of their product matches the price point. “Walmart’s HDTVs are at ‘low’ prices because they are the lower-quality versions than those sold elsewhere,” Lori McDaniel, senior content manager for Offers.com, explained to Go Baking Rates. “[You can] get higher-quality at low prices at a warehouse store like Costco.”
A Prepaid Phone Plan
When the experts at Tom’s Guide put nine phone carriers to the test, they spent a lot of time debating which carrier would claim the top spot. However, one thing was always certain, and that was who would land at the bottom of their list: Straight Talk Wireless, the prepaid phone plan offered by Walmart.
“Straight Talk had the slowest LTE speed of any carrier we tested, and it also came in last when we tested customer support,” they wrote of their decision. “Straight Talk performance in other areas—smartphone plans, phone selection, and special features—wasn’t strong enough to close the gap between it and other carriers.” Oof.
Walmart’s generic syrup isn’t bad. On the contrary, Consumer Reports gave the Great Value Pure Maple Syrup a “good/very good” rating when it reviewed a slew of store brand syrups. But just because Walmart’s sweet sauce is “good” doesn’t mean you can’t do better. In fact, not only did Trader Joe’s 100% Pure Vermont Maple Syrup get an “excellent” rating, but it’s also just $1.06 per 1/4-cup serving versus Walmart’s $1.17 per 1/4-cup serving. In other words, you can save money and get a better quality product by buying your maple syrup at Trader Joe’s.
While Walmart’s toys selection is impressive, its prices are another story. When Kiplinger compared the store’s toy prices to several other similar retailers, they found that Amazon consistently offered better deals on the same products.
Every once in a while—like on Black Friday or during an end-of-season sale—Walmart will offer some great deals on gift cards that are worth scooping up. But for the most part, you’re going to find better savings on gift cards at warehouses like Costco or Sam’s Club, where the cash cards are sold at a discount 365 days a year.
When you need batteries, go to Costco. When Consumer Reports tested out 15 brands of AA batteries, they found that Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand AA alkaline batteries were the best-performing store brand batteries and that they weren’t all that dissimilar from the Engerizers and Duracells tested.
“Walmart has relatively cheap wood furniture, but this is because it’s a lesser quality than other furniture retailers,” Carson Yarbrough, a savings expert at Offers.com, told Go Banking Rates. “Wooden furniture from Walmart is more likely to break or deteriorate quicker, so buy your furniture elsewhere to save money and the hassle of replacing it in two months.”
Photo Printing Services
At Walmart, you can print your 4×6 photos for just $0.25 per print, or $0.19 if you have more than 75 photos to produce. But while those prices are good, you can do better. Download the Shutterfly app, for instance, and you can print an unlimited number of photos for free.
For name brand diapers, turn to Amazon Family. The subscription service—available exclusively to Prime members—offers up to 20 percent off baby products like diapers and formula. Not even discount superstores like Walmart can beat such steep savings.
For the most part, you’ll find better video game prices on Amazon than you will at Walmart. For instance, at the time this article was written, Walmart was selling Forza Horizon 4, the popular heart-pumping Xbox One racing game, for $51, while Amazon was selling it for $47 new (or $42 used).
If you still prefer to hold the news in your hands, then consider subscribing to your favorite magazine instead of buying it off the newsstand. The average cost of a single magazine in 2015 was $5.55, while most annual magazine subscriptions—which net you anywhere from 6 to 12 issues—will run you around $10 or $20.
There’s a reason why Walmart isn’t known for selling refrigerators and laundry machines. Not only does the store offer a small selection of appliances, but their prices hardly compare with bigger appliance-focused retailers like Best Buy and Home Depot.
Any wrapping paper you find at Walmart is going to be of the same quality as the stuff you could find at the dollar store. However, while Walmart charges pretty standard prices for their paper, you can find even better prices at the dollar store.
Books and Music
In the entertainment department, Amazon once again prevails over Walmart as the cheapest retailer out there. “When it comes to entertainment—be it books, music, or TV shows—you’re typically better off shopping Amazon,” Erin Konrad, a spokesperson for CouponPal.com, explained to MarketWatch.
Please don’t buy jewelry at Walmart. Though the prices are tempting, the quality of the products leaves a lot to be desired—and quite frankly, no woman who’s gifted a bracelet from Walmart is going to be pleased. “What message does it send to your partner if you buy them a ring at the same place where you get discounted toilet paper?,” Jennifer Heebner, market editor at jewelry industry publication JCK Magazines, explained to CBS.
At the end of the day, it’s a better investment—in both the jewelry and your relationship—to just spend a little bit more on a bejeweled bracelet at a reputable jeweler. Start by taking a look at the 10 Best Sterling Silver Jewelry Gifts.
If you only need a single bag of pet food, then it’s fine to pick it up at Walmart. But if you plan on buying pet food on a regular basis (and, if you have a pet, we sure hope that’s what you do), there are several subscription services that can help you save even more. For example, if you set up automatic purchases on Amazon, you can save anywhere from 5 to 10 percent per bag. That adds up!
Seeing as you spend anywhere from six to eight hours per night in your bed, you aren’t going to want to buy bed linens that are anything less than the best. And while Walmart’s prices are alluring, “the price for the quality is not good,” consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch told MarketWatch. For bedding that is both cheap and comfortable, check out the sale section at a department store like Macy’s instead.
Since you’re going to throw these forks and knives away after they’ve been used just once, it doesn’t make sense to overspend on them—and while Walmart’s prices aren’t bad, any dollar store will have them beat.
What’s the point of spending a lot of money on a birthday or holiday card when it’ll inevitably be thrown away almost as soon as it’s opened? Greeting cards are little more than a formality these days, and if you absolutely insist on buying one, then it’s best to just grab it at a dollar store where you know you’re getting the best price possible.
Walmart’s store brand organic milk might not actually be organic, according to The Washington Post. When reporters from the newspaper took a trip to Aurora Organic Dairy—the farm that supplies the organic milk for Walmart—they found that “signs of grazing were sparse, at best” and that “at no point was any more than 10 percent of the herd out” feeding on grass. And while most of the other organic milks that the Post tested had acidity levels that you’d expect from organic products, the Aurora milk had acidity levels eerily similar to non-organic milks.
The retailers that have great deals on appliances (think Best Buy, Home Depot, and Lowes) are also where you should also go to buy a vacuum. While those stores have expansive selections and good prices, Walmart has a small selection filled with goods that are unreasonably marked up.
Electronic experts advise against buying expensive and high-end electronic goods at Walmart. “Walmart is known as a value-oriented retailer and not primarily known as a consumer electronics store,” Brian Meiggs, founder of Millennial Money Guide, explained to Go Banking Rates. “[I] recently went shopping for a drone, and the level of service and accessories was subpar at my local Walmart—not to mention the price was much higher at Walmart.”
Believe it or not, big chains like Walmart are often “charging WAY more for tech accessories than they need to,” says David Dritsas of Brad’s Deals. Rarely is there an instance in which a phone case is cheaper at a big name store versus through an online retailer like Amazon, and it pays to shop around online before making your purchase. And for more amazing bits of shopping advice, steal these 27 Online Shopping Secrets So Good You’ll Want to Keep Them to Yourself.
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