Everybody knows that Walmart is a place to find deals. You could spend hours wandering around your local Walmart filling a shopping cart with low-priced products — and now, you can do the same thing on Walmart.com.
But you’ve got to tread carefully here because the total cost of those two shopping carts might differ depending on whether you’re purchasing online or in-store.
Unlike some retailers, Walmart.com doesn’t always charge the same prices online that you’d find in-store. There’s definitely a strategy behind it, and sometimes you can get a better deal in-store than you can on Walmart.com. You’ve just got to know what you’re looking for.
This guide explains how and why Walmart.com prices are different from in-store prices, whether Walmart+ matches in-store prices, and how Walmart’s Price Match Policy works.
Are Walmart prices the same online and in store?
The short answer is: no. Walmart's prices aren’t always the same.
In-store and online prices tend to fluctuate based on many factors. This means you won’t always get the same deals for identical products — even though you’re shopping with the same company.
It’s worth noting that this price difference doesn’t necessarily mean that Walmart.com is always more expensive than shopping at your local Walmart (or vice-versa).
Don’t worry if this sounds a bit confusing. We’ll explain why this price gap exists and how you can use Walmart’s pricing system to get the best deal.
Why does Walmart have different prices online?
Walmart is known to periodically charge different prices online than it does in-store.
This was part of a conscious experiment that the retail giant launched in 2017 to see if it could push customers back into its brick-and-mortar locations. It was seen as part of a wider campaign to try and circumnavigate Amazon’s eCommerce domination. The pricing strategy saw Walmart start to charge more for some products online than it charges in-store.
Fast-forward five years, and that experiment appears to have been a success. Today, you’ll still notice a number of price gaps between identical items on Walmart.com and your local brick-and-mortar.
It’s worth noting that these price differences don’t apply to many items. In fact, they mostly apply to smaller items that are not as cost-effective to ship directly to your home.
That being said, Walmart.com isn’t always more expensive than buying in-store. Because various stores are responsible for managing their own inventory, it’s often at the manager’s discretion to raise or lower prices for particular products.
As a result, in-store prices fluctuate from store to store and can outstrip Walmart.com prices.
Are Walmart Plus prices the same as in-store prices?
Generally speaking: yes. But just like in-store versus online pricing, there are some gray areas here.
Before we dive into Walmart Plus pricing, let’s take a step back and go over exactly what Walmart Plus is.
Walmart Plus (or “Walmart+”) is a paid subscription service that the retail giant launched in 2020. It’s a lot like Amazon Prime. With Walmart+, you get a lot of perks. These include unlimited free delivery and in-store prices on more than 160,000 items covering everything from groceries and toys to tech, clothing, household essentials, and more.
Because in-store prices are generally lower than online or in-app purchases, Walmart+ prices are going to be lower than buying through Walmart.com. But again, it’s important to note that in-store prices vary.
It’s also important to remember that these savings come at a price because Walmart+ isn’t a free service. It’s part of a paid subscription that you can renew either monthly or annually.
Is it cheaper to order online or buy in-store?
For a large quantity of Walmart inventory, you’re going to get the same price online that you would find in-store — particularly for big-ticket items like TVs or white goods.
But as we’ve already mentioned, you might find relatively big price differences on a lot of small items. These tend to cost more on Walmart.com.
Likewise, each Walmart store does have some autonomy when setting its own prices, so sometimes shopping in-store can be more expensive.
For example, a manager at a Walmart in St. Louis might want to get rid of excess inventory, so they decide to drop prices on a particular brand of big-screen TV. But over in Chicago, your local Walmart and Walmart.com would likely continue selling that TV at full price.
But if you get stuck trying to figure out whether Walmart or Walmart.com is cheaper and end up paying too much money, don’t despair. You can take advantage of the Walmart Price Match Policy.
Do Walmart stores price match Walmart.com?
In most cases: yes, Walmart stores will normally price match what you see on Walmart.com.
If you’re thinking about buying an eligible item from a US Walmart store but see the item listed for less on Walmart.com, the store will normally match the item price as advertised online.
But as you’d expect, a few restrictions apply to Walmart’s price-matching policy.
First, the item that you’re buying needs to be available and in stock on Walmart.com when you go into a brick-and-mortar Walmart store to request a price match.
After asking for a price match, an associate (and potentially a supervisor) will then need to verify the price difference between the item’s in-store and online prices before they can approve a price match.
Finally, price matches aren’t available for Walmart stores in Alaska, Hawaii, or Puerto Rico. The Walmart Price Match policy only applies to mainland US stores.
Beyond this exclusion, there are a few other basic rules. For example, you’re not allowed to price match Black Friday, Deals for Days, or Cyber Monday deals.
You also aren’t allowed to price match the cost of a product at one Walmart store against the price of another. Going back to that example of big-screen TVs in St. Louis, that means you can’t look at the sale price of a TV in a St. Louis Walmart store and then demand that your local Chicago store match it.
At the end of the day, it’s pretty important to know how price matching works because it can save you money.
You don’t want to waste an extra $10 on an item when you don’t have to. That’s why it always pays to check ahead and make sure you’re getting the best deal.
We all love a bargain. That’s why Walmart has become the retail powerhouse it is today. The retailer is a haven for deal seekers. But it’s important to remember that, even at Walmart, some bargains are better than others.
That’s why you should always check the price of an item on Walmart.com before buying in-store to get the best deal. If you are at risk of paying more, let a Walmart associate know. You could benefit from a price match and end up paying less.
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