Walmart is our go-to big-box retailer for so many reasons. The chain is reliable, convenient, and has practically everything we need, from kitchen and bathroom essentials to decor and electronics. And while you can almost always bet that a trip to Walmart will be cost-effective, there are strategies you can use to ensure you find the best deals and get the most out of your shopping trip. Keep reading to hear from consumer experts and former employees about the common mistakes shoppers make at Walmart—and how to avoid them on future trips.
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Walmart has great prices on many products—including name-brand ones—but that doesn’t mean you should skip the generics. By doing so, you’re missing out on quality store-brand purchases, says Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst at DealNews.com. “Walmart has its own store brands like Great Value and Equate that can offer serious savings,” Ramhold explains. “They also carry budget-friendly brands like Malt-O-Meal that are well worth purchasing if you buy those kinds of items a lot,” she says.
If you have grocery, personal care, or home staple products that you purchase regularly, it’s worth seeing if you can swap your name-brand product for a generic one. You just might see some serious savings.
On the other hand, exclusively purchasing generic products at Walmart is also a mistake that might cost you quality and savings. “Walmart’s own store brands of Great Value and Equate don’t always get the best ratings,” says Ramhold. “Sure, the prices may be good, but sometimes they don’t measure up in taste or quality. It’s worth looking at other budget-friendly brands for great prices on generics that are worth your cash because they taste just as good as the name brands but come at a much nicer price point,” she advises. Read the reviews on products to see where you can go generic and where you may want to choose a name brand.
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Did you know there’s a more affordable time to shop for groceries at Walmart? According to The Krazy Coupon Lady, food items like produce, meat, and bakery items are marked down at 8 p.m. one day before their best-by date. Shop for these products a little after that time to get the marked-down price while the items are still fresh. “If you notice that it’s the day before the best-by date and it’s not marked down, simply bring it to a manager,” The Krazy Coupon Lady writes. “If the system allows it, they’ll go ahead and mark it down for you. It doesn’t hurt to ask!”
Make Walmart your go-to destination for bulky or oversized purchases. “For orders over $35, Walmart offers free two-day shipping, so it’s a great way to save on delivery fees if you’re planning on making a larger purchase,” says Jen Stark, founder of Happy DIY Home. It’s also a good backup when you just don’t have the time to get to the store. Convenient, cost-effective, and fast? That’s a triple win in our book.
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Sure, Walmart has great deals. But so do other big-box stores and online retailers. “Before you drop something into your cart, make sure to shop around,” suggests Ramhold. “If you’re shopping online, be sure to check other competitors like Target and even warehouse clubs like Costco—you may be surprised to find a better unit price elsewhere.” If you’re shopping in person, do a quick check on other retailers’ websites on your phone. That way, you know you’re truly getting the best deal.
On a similar note, there are certain products you may buy on repeat that could be more affordable elsewhere. “If you’re used to shopping at Walmart, it can be easy to get into the rhythm of shopping there and without knowing it, settle for paying more,” says Guadalupe Sanchez, founder of Budgeting in Blue. “I would take this as a friendly reminder to check in on prices on a quarterly basis—especially for the items that you buy consistently.” Sanchez says she notices the biggest differences in prices between Walmart and other retailers on furniture and electronics products.
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It always pays to be kind—especially at Walmart. “Be nice to the managers and you will always, always, always get your way,” former Walmart employee Paris Mars tells The Sun. “If you talk with a normal voice and you’re just explaining stuff, I promise you the managers will respect you and will do anything in their power to make you happy.” Better deals, shopping tips, and return policies could await if you follow this golden rule.