10 Reasons Target Shoppers Avoid Walmart


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exterior of Target store
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It's hard to beat Walmart where it matters most: low prices. But Walmart's main competitor, Target, has still cultivated a passionate group of shoppers -- many of whom go to great lengths to avoid that bigger, bluer, cheaper rival across town. Target isn't bulletproof (the massive 2013 data breach that affected millions of customers is the most cringe-worthy example) but for core shoppers, there's little Target can do to lose their allegiance. Here are 10 reasons devotees say they'll always choose Target over Walmart.
kitchen aisle in Target
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There's a lot Target does better than Walmart in this category, shoppers say: The aisles are wider, the shelves better organized, the lighting less harsh, the store punctuated with whimsical design touches (hello, giant red balls). Even the color red is associated with youth, energy and excitement (Walmart's signature blue, on the other hand, better conveys dependability and strength). Target also continues to innovate here, with a redesign that features more upscale fixtures, polished concrete floors, and sleek wood.
self-checkout at Target
Photo credit: Malia H./yelp.com


Dedicated Target shoppers insist they aren't spending much more at Target than they would at Walmart. Indeed, our recent comparison of drugstore pricing revealed that Walmart beat Target by a very slim margin on personal care items and over-the-counter medications. And Target recently slashed prices on several grocery items and household staples. Target devotees also point to the Cartwheel program, which offers discounts throughout the store, and the 5 percent REDcard discount as other ways to narrow any savings gap.
home throw accent pillow at Target
Photo credit: Leah E./yelp.com


Who knew a big-box store could be stylish? Target has cultivated an image of "cheap chic," in part through a renewed focus on strong in-house brands. Shoppers also love its collaborations with high-profile designers: For instance, when it teamed up with women's clothing brand Lilly Pulitzer in 2015, it touched off a Black Friday-style frenzy; more recently, home accents from uber-popular HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines have popped up on shelves. But stay tuned: Recent acquisitions of higher-end brands suggest Walmart is making a play to alter its "proudly uncool" image.
women's clothing section of Target store
Photo credit: Malia H./yelp.com


One consequence of Target's effort to position itself as "stylish" -- and Walmart's effort to continually win the price wars -- is shoppers' perception that Walmart offers lower quality merchandise, especially when it comes to soft goods like clothing and tech merchandise like TVs. The New York Times has even asked whether Walmart "is too cheap for its own good," noting that customers mostly see it as a place to buy basics, not aspirational items where quality matters more. But it's worth noting that both Walmart and Target have plenty of entries on our list of store-brand foods that are just as good or better than the name brands.
cart of stuff at Target
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Walmart used to have a robust price-matching policy, but that seems to have changed. The chain axed ad-based matching at hundreds of stores starting in May 2016, and the store's online policy suggests that in-store, it will now match only prices from Walmart.com or Jet.com. Competitor-advertised prices are specifically excluded, and customers must now rely on a Savings Catcher feature in the Walmart app to refund big price differences after a purchase. Target, on the other hand, will still match prices shown in competitors' ads and prices from more than two dozen online competitors, including Amazon.
customer service counter at Target
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Shoppers say it's easier to find reliable help at Target than Walmart. And there's data to back that up: Walmart is a perennial bottom dweller in the American Customer Service Index, based on annual interviews with 70,000 customers; Target usually receives above-average marks, as it did again in the latest survey. But it's worth noting that Walmart has made high-profile efforts to close the gap, including beefed-up online associate training and management academies.
family restroom in Target
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Type "why do moms love" in Google: One of the search engine's first suggestions to complete your question? "Target." Carts with molded red plastic chairs that can accommodate bigger kids are game-changers for moms who don't want to drag around reluctant tots, and family restrooms are a reliable, easy-to-find fixture at the front of the store (Walmart, if it has family restrooms at all, often hides them in the back). Target's line of kids' clothes, Cat & Jack, even has pieces specifically designed for children with disabilities or special needs.

row of red shopping carts in Target store parking lot
Photo credit: krblokhin/istockphoto


Few companies have had more turbulent worker relations than Walmart, which has faced accusations of low wages, poor working conditions, anemic benefits, and more over the past decade. Most recently, the company has been accused of punishing workers for taking sick days. To Walmart's credit, it recently boosted starting wages from $9 to $11 an hour to match Target (even if the news was undercut by the sudden closure of 63 Sam's Club stores). Target has been comparatively unscathed by similar controversies, and while its wages are also low, workers have given the company high marks in other areas like benefits, culture, and work environment.
aisle at Target
Photo credit: Leslie E./yelp.com


Target has certainly earned a reputation for being the more progressive big-box juggernaut -- an image that can both repel and attract shoppers, depending on their outlook. A couple of recent examples: Target took a high-profile stand during the transgender bathroom ban controversy, and earlier removed "boy" and "girl" labels from toy aisles in an effort to be more inclusive. Indeed, Target has higher net favorability among Democrats than Republicans (71 percent versus 53 percent, respectively) while the opposite is true for Walmart.
Starbucks inside super Target
Photo credit: John L./yelp.com


While Walmart has relied on partnerships with fast-food mega-chains like Subway and McDonald's, Target went another direction, partnering with Starbucks in 1999. Since then, the coffee giant has plopped a Starbucks café into more than 1,300 of the retailer's 1,800 stores. It may seem like a silly reason to choose one store over another, but many Target shoppers say they love being able to sip a latte while they browse Target's aisles -- perhaps adding to the perception that shopping there is more of a fun escape, or even an "everyday luxury," much like Starbucks itself.

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