The 20 Worst Things to Buy at Walmart, According to Experts
These Walmart purchases may seem like deals, but they're bad buys in the long run.
Walmart offers its shoppers both bargain prices and the convenience of buying a massive range of goods under one roof. But not every item in the store is offered at the best price in the retail marketplace. While certain goods might not be up to your quality standards, some Walmart offerings just aren't smart buys compared to other options. To help you navigate your next trip, we gathered tips from shopping and retail experts for the inside line on the things you should never buy at Walmart. And for more shopping tips, check out If You Want to Save on Groceries at Walmart, Shop at This Time.
For appliances, you'd be better off shopping in a place that specializes in them rather than this jack-of-all-trades retailer.
"Walmart doesn't have a large selection of large appliances, and even if they did, you'd be more likely to find a better price at stores like Best Buy, Home Depot, or Lowe's," says Julie Ramhold with DealNews. "Not only do those stores regularly offer up to 35 percent off a variety of large appliances—they tend to also have decent delivery services, so you don't have to haul that new fridge home by yourself." And for how to save money on the items you do buy, check out these 29 Amazing Walmart Shopping Tips Only Employees Know.
Remember that low-quality clothing wears out faster and has to be replaced, costing you more money in the end—so you might want to buy yours elsewhere.
"Avoid the clothing, unless it's school uniforms, which are pretty standard in quality," says Gina Zakaria, the blogger behind the budget blog Saving Whiz. "Most of their materials are not good quality and don't last for more than a season. After one or two washes, the clothing loses shape and looks worn out."
Similar to clothing, quality furniture lasts longer, and it can be worth making a larger investment in better pieces than what Walmart offers.
"While I think Walmart is a reliable resource for inexpensive pieces, like a side table for a dorm room or home office, I wouldn't recommend buying an important staple piece, like a bed, dresser, or dining room table there. The quality just won't be up to snuff," says Trae Bodge, smart shopping expert at TrueTrae. "My suggestion would be to consider those larger, staple items as more of an investment. If you invest upfront, you can rest assured that the item will last for a long time, rather than having to be re-purchased in a year's time." And for the latest on the retail giant's effort to curb COVID, check out If You Live in These States, You Can Now Get Vaccinated at Walmart.
If your grocery list includes organic produce, you probably want to look elsewhere.
"Many Walmart stores have groceries and the prices can be very good," says Bodge. "However, they are not known for their pricing on organic foods." She suggests you might get better prices at Trader Joe's or Aldi. Amazon Prime members should also check Whole Foods, since membership qualifies shoppers for exclusive discounts on select items.
It may be convenient as a place to get everything you need in one trip, but Walmart is not the best store for cheese and dairy, based on price alone.
"They may seem like a good price, but you can find a better price at warehouse stores like Costco or Sam's Club, or even at your local grocery store when there's a sale," notes Zakaria.
If you're in the market for a big-ticket electronics item, like a game console or a camera, make sure to do your research, rather than just assuming that Walmart's prices are the best.
"While Walmart is very competitive when it comes to pricing of electronics, they don't always have the lowest price," Bodge says. "Prior to investing in a 4K TV or a Google Home device, take a look at the same item at competitors, like Amazon, Best Buy, Target, or Newegg. You just might find a lower price elsewhere." And for more shopping hacks sent straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Cables and chargers
"I find that many tech accessories, like cables and chargers, are priced better on Amazon," Bodge says. "But if you're looking for phone cases, the prices are comparable."
Savings expert Andrea Woroch shares the sentiment, adding, "Although you can find great deals on various electronics such as video game consoles and cameras at Walmart, skip the accessory section. Items like HDMI cables, phone chargers, and even phone cases can be found for much less online via sites like Amazon or eBay."
Greeting cards are one of those sneaky budget busters: They seem insignificant, but can really add up—yes, even at Walmart—so shop elsewhere for them if possible to save money.
"Greeting cards are cheaper at the dollar store compared to Walmart, where you can snag two for $1," Woroch says.
Party supplies and wrapping paper
Walmart's deals on party supplies, including gift wrapping accoutrements, are just OK—but you can do better.
"Walmart's party supply section is certainly a much better deal than a speciality retailer like Party City, but you're still overpaying," Woroch says. "You can get a much better deal on balloons, gift cards, gift bags, party favors, and tissue paper from the dollar store."
Bedding is a very intimate purchase; it's close to your skin night in and night out, and your comfort depends on it. So make it count, and that might mean buying it somewhere other than Walmart.
"The quality of their bedding leaves a lot to be desired," says Zakaria. "Their sheet sets tend to be thin and often start to pill after just a wash or two. Instead, shop for good-quality bedding at discount stores like Ross, Marshalls, or Home Goods."
Because a mattress can affect your sleep, it can affect your health and wellbeing, too. Plus, getting a cheap one won't necessarily save you any money over time anyway.
"While they are cheap, they aren't very comfortable," says Tess Robison from the personal finance website Money Done Right. She notes that she's back on the market for a mattress just about a year after getting one from Walmart. Now that she's testing other options, she realizes how disappointed she is in her Walmart mattress. "If we had invested the money in a good one from the start, we probably would've gotten better sleep, less back pain, and saved money in the long run," Robison says.
In many cases, the old adage is true: You get what you pay for. So if you want high-quality towels, don't buy them at Walmart.
"Although the price is great, the quality is not," Woroch says. "You can get much more for your money without breaking the bank by shopping at a discounter like Marshalls or HomeGoods instead, where they carry top brands at up to 60 percent off regular retail."
Walmart sells a ton of jewelry, but its discount jewels may not be jewelry store-quality. Plus, CBS News notes, Walmart's salespeople are not subject matter experts, and are not likely to provide you the guidance you might need to make a major jewelry purchase.
It's not just that Walmart doesn't have the best selection of books—it's also that your Walmart book purchase doesn't help support smaller, local booksellers.
"Amazon is still one of the cheaper options for buying books, whether you prefer paperback or hardback," Ramhold says. "However, I personally like to shop indie bookstores, as I find that while prices might be closer to list price and not discounted, I receive better customer service, and I feel good about supporting local."
Cat litter and pet food
Because pets' needs like food and cat litter are regularly recurring expenses, putting these on a subscription service is an opportunity for you to save some cash. Amazon's Subscribe & Save service allows you to save about 15 percent on subscription items—plus you get it shipped to your door, and that's a bonus for heavy items like bulk pet food and cat litter. (Walmart has plans to launch a subscription service of its own, but that has been delayed amid the pandemic.)
Walmart stores and the website offer a broad selection of gift cards, from brands like Dunkin', AT&T, Starbucks, and Nordstrom. "This is certainly convenient, but you'll be paying full price for these gift cards," Bodge notes. "Instead, use an online aggregator, like GiftCardGranny, which has thousands of gift cards at a discount."
Ramhold adds, "You'll get more bang for your buck by planning ahead and shopping for these at Costco, instead. There, you'll find most gift cards are discounted, so a $100 App Store gift card will only set you back $90."
Not only does Walmart typically not have the best deals on smartphones, but other retailers might also offer perks along with the purchase.
"If consumers can wait, I recommend buying [smartphones] on Amazon, particularly during Amazon Prime day where users can avail more significant discounts and receive freebies with some purchases as well," says Yaniv Masjedi, Chief Marketing Officer of business phone system Nextiva. "Walmart only has competitive prices than more prominent brands because their electronics have a lower quality. If the urgency to buy is high, Costco is a better choice, and I recommend buying from a reputable brand rather than an unknown brand."
Product care plans
It's fairly well known that extended warranties offered in stores for electronics aren't typically a good bet, and Walmart is no exception.
"Skip Walmart's Product Care Plans, which they try to sell on high-ticket electronics and smartphones," says Shane Dutka, the founder of Review Home Warranties. "These additional protection plans tend to sound nice on paper but never crunch out to be worth the costs. Plus, the majority of electronics and smartphones come with a manufacturer's warranty plus the option of an extended warranty as well. At that point, Walmart's becomes unnecessary fluff."
Don't be lured by Walmart's cheap price on ultra-cheap kitchen appliances like mixers and blenders, as they won't save you money down the line, warns Kristen Gall from the cash-back service Rakuten.
"It's better to invest in higher-quality products like KitchenAid, Cuisinart, and Bosch that will last longer and perform better," she suggests. "For even more savings, look for bigger deals from online sites like Stonewall Kitchen, Appliances Connection, or Overstock.com."
Items that aren't actually from Walmart
If you shop through Walmart.com, you might expect to be shopping Walmart merchandise exclusively—but you're not. So buyer beware.
"Not everything sold on Walmart's website is sold through the big box store directly," Woroch warns. "Some are sold and shipped by third party retailers—always detailed in the fine print. However, if you're not looking out for this, you could be overpaying since you may have to pay a separate shipping fee. Making returns to these third party retailers can be a hassle, too." And for more on the chain's effort to increase convenience for consumers, check out Walmart Just Got One Step Closer to 24-Hour Delivery.