This Is the 1 Thing People Hate Buying Most at Walmart
The most dissatisfying thing about shopping at Walmart? The low prices don’t compensate for the poor quality of merchandise and service. According to Consumerist, that’s exactly what the American Customer Satisfaction Index determined when evaluating Walmart’s decade of low customer satisfaction scores.
If you need hardware or clothing, Walmart might be your go-to. But just because you can’t avoid the store doesn’t mean you need to buy everything there. In fact, you should probably never purchase the following things at Walmart — consider yourself warned.
20. Tech accessories
Walmart charges way more than online retailers for things like cables, phone cases, screen protectors, chargers, and other tech add-ons. Big chains often make much less on big-ticket tech items like TVs and computers, so they up-sell you on the smaller products. Don’t impulsively buy your next phone case at Walmart. You’re much better off looking online for the exact same thing.
Next: You’re better off going to IKEA.
If you’re looking for a quick, cheap fix, then go ahead and buy your couch at Walmart. But the poor quality — bad construction, scratchy fabric, and questionable sourcing — will catch up with you. Not only was Walmart previously linked to illegal logging practices, but your sagging bookshelf or lumpy recliner won’t last nearly as long as other retailers’ furniture.
Kathy Woodard, an HGTV home decorating expert, told CBS, “Yes, their furniture may be cheap, but if it only lasts a short time, you will spend far more money in the long run.”
Next: Buy your vitamins elsewhere.
18. Store-brand supplements
Only 4% of Walmart’s store-brand herbal supplements tested positive for the listed ingredients, according to an investigation by the attorney general’s office of New York. For example, the actual ingredients in its ginkgo biloba supplements were houseplants, wheat, and powdered radish. Other offenders included Target, Walgreens, and GNC, but we’ll save those stores for another article.
Next: Keep Walmart out of your kitchen.
17. Kitchen appliances
Walmart has a pretty small selection of major appliances, like dishwashers and refrigerators. And you can likely find better deals elsewhere. Stores like Best Buy and Sears often have better prices as well as free home delivery, installation, and removal of your old appliance, according to Consumer Reports. Their salespeople will likely be more knowledgeable, too. Concerning small kitchen appliances, the Huffington Post explains that shoppers can buy in bulk online and check out Amazon for competitive prices.
Next: Bulk is better.
16. Nuts and seeds
The bulk bins at Trader Joe’s or your local grocery store will give you a lot more cashews for your cash. According to Kiplinger, these places will have better deals than Walmart, where mixed nuts are about $1 more per bag and almonds are approximately $1.50 more per pound. When you buy bulk elsewhere, you can purchase the exact amount of nuts and seeds you want and save on waste from the packaging.
Next: A good night’s sleep is worth some research.
It’s worth buying soft sheets and nice pillows — sleep is so important for your health! But Walmart isn’t the place to do it. Quality is not associated with the giant retailer, and experts advise looking at other discount stores like T.J.Maxx, Home Goods, and Ross for higher-end bedding at a lower cost. The Huffington Post takes it one step further and advises waiting for discounts and coupons at places like Macy’s to maximize your savings for the really nice stuff.
Next: Walmart is not “tops” for this item.
Not only is customer service lacking in Walmart’s electronics department, but the prices aren’t as great as they seem. The chain often sells lower-quality models to get the low price tags. GoBankingRates suggests waiting for coupons at stores like Newegg and the Microsoft Store (or direct manufacturers), and then jumping on deals for the highest-quality laptops at the lowest prices. Comparison shop with this tech item or you’ll regret it later.
Next: The most hated Walmart item that shoppers try to avoid
13. Fresh produce
Want to buy groceries to make nutritious meals for your family? Then you’ll need fresh fruit, vegetables, and other produce. But Clark Howard reports that people particularly dislike the produce section at the Walmart grocery. The company does alright with dry goods, but it majorly falls behind on fresh goods. The cost may be a little cheaper or equal to other grocery stores, but Walmart’s food is often older and of lower quality.
The fresh foods often look “unappealing,” too. The company is working on its inventory flow and now discounts fresh food nearing its expiration date. But things still aren’t good enough to shop there. We attribute the terrible fresh produce partially to the retail giant’s higher cost of operation, but there’s more to this problem than meets the eye.
Next: Walmart’s fresh produce is also oddly selected and stocked.
12. Walmart has weird priorities for its produce section
Anybody with strong opinions about fruits and vegetables has likely wondered why their grocery store stocks one fruit, but not another. The Walmart grocery section is no different, and the company has baffling priorities. Walmart recently created a designer — but not GMO — cantaloupe it can sell even in the winter. The news came much to the chagrin of shoppers, who think nobody really likes cantaloupe anyway.
Next: It’s hard to buy fresh produce when you face this mess.
11. The grocery shelves are messy and often empty
Anybody who regularly shops at Walmart knows the superstore can be a mess. So it’s not surprising we can say the same for the grocery section. Forbes reports it’s common to find your local Walmart in disarray. Shoppers find that products are often out of stock and shelves are empty in the disorganized department.
Analysts surmise that Walmart just doesn’t have enough employees on the job, according to Time. When you can track down an employee, they often seem overburdened or inadequately trained. Even Walmart employees speak out about the problem. A dairy and meat stocker noted, “The merchandise is in the store. It just can’t make the jump from the shelf in the back to the one in the front. There’s not the people to do it.”
Next: Don’t get us started on the organic produce at Walmart.
10. Walmart doesn’t have the best prices on organic produce, either
If you want to save money while buying organic produce, Walmart sounds like a good idea — until you check the prices. Kiplinger found that the Walmart grocery doesn’t have the best prices on organic fruits or vegetables, which doesn’t bode well for the chain. A MarketForce study found a majority of American shoppers look for locally sourced or organic meat, produce, or dairy products. In fact, half of the consumers surveyed said they prefer organic. And 93% had purchased organic produce in the past 30 days, making it the most popular organic item.
Next: These grocery sections are not Walmart’s “bread and butter.”
9. Not every Walmart grocery has a deli or a bakery
Most of us visit the deli or bakery when we grocery shop. Unfortunately, you might have a hard time doing that if you shop at a Walmart that doesn’t have either section. Fortune notes Walmart commits to including a deli and a bakery at all new locations of its grocery-focused Neighborhood Market stores. But that doesn’t help shoppers at existing Walmart stores that don’t have those departments.
Next: Another food section that’s “unacceptable”
8. The Walmart grocery sells tons of junk food with ‘unacceptable’ ingredients
You don’t have to spend a lot of time at the Walmart grocery to realize it sells a lot of junk food and marginally nutritious processed foods. A splashy Slate analysis determined roughly 54% of food items sold at Walmart would be prohibited by Whole Foods, which maintains a blacklist of “unacceptable ingredients for food.” (Think aspartame, high-fructose corn syrup, and MSG.)
Many of the ingredients banned at Whole Foods show up in processed foods — exactly the kind of foods Walmart has been criticized for marketing to low-income customers.
Next: Offering fresh produce alongside unacceptable food isn’t enough.
7. The Walmart grocery store isn’t fixing food deserts or helping Americans eat healthier
It seems positive that Walmart offers fresh food and organic produce in our communities. However, NPR reports that Walmart doesn’t actually encourage healthy eating in food deserts, the lower-income urban areas where grocery stores are scarce. In fact, Americans’ junk food calories increasingly come from big box stores — Walmart chief among them.
The packaged foods people buy at stores like Walmart are typically higher in sugar, sodium, and saturated fat than what they buy at a traditional grocery. And the data indicates that Walmart doesn’t help families make healthier grocery choices.
Next: You may not consider this element of grocery shopping.
6. The Walmart grocery can be a dangerous place to shop
Another problem related to understaffing? Walmart is a dangerous place to shop due to its cost-cutting policies. Walmart has cut greeters and added self-checkout scanners. The changes make “shoplifting and other illegal activities easier to engage in without employees noticing,” says Business Insider.
In 2016, Walmart stores experienced crimes, such as stabbings, shootings, murder, manslaughter, and attempted kidnapping. Local police forces complain they do the work Walmart’s security should handle. Some tell Bloomberg that they can’t believe the corporation doesn’t do more to stop crime and instead just offloads the job to police at taxpayers’ expense.
Next: Grocery store success is relative.
5. Walmart doesn’t actually help consumers like it claims
Choosing where you grocery shop is a pretty personal decision. And in many areas, you’re lucky if you have a choice at all. Although Walmart lowers prices, it hurts consumers in other ways. When a Walmart opens in a community, it leads to job loss and lower wages in the surrounding retail market.
Plus, when the company underinvests in workers, shoppers experience longer wait times and lower-quality interactions with staff. Waiting in line might mean paying the babysitter extra, and shelves full of rotting produce might mean a shopping trip wasted. Walmart’s policies can even reinforce racial and socioeconomic disadvantage — a high price to pay for a convenient grocery store or marginally lower prices on household essentials.
Next: Many communities don’t have a choice about where they shop.
4. It’s the only grocery store with a nationwide presence — and sometimes the only grocery in town
With the largest market share for food and beverages of any U.S. retailer, many people buy Walmart groceries even when they hate the store. This may be because it’s the only grocery store with a nationwide presence. (However, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Aldi are headed in that direction.)
Nonetheless, Walmart is the only grocery you can consistently find across the country. Many communities might prefer a different grocery store, but they end up with a Walmart grocery as their only option in town. This can spell trouble if Walmart destroys the competition and later closes its stores, too.
Next: Low-income equals low priority.
3. The worst Walmart locations are in low-income and minority communities
Shoppers have bad experiences at Walmart stores everywhere, but low-income communities host the Walmart stores with the worst customer service. A study found that stores in areas with lower average incomes offer worse customer service than those in higher-income neighborhoods. The same goes for stores in areas with higher proportions of black or Latino residents versus those in areas with more white residents.
Researchers blame the disparity on Walmart’s strategic decision to understaff stores in certain areas. The company underinvests in stores in disadvantaged communities, and it prioritizes adequate staffing and customer satisfaction far more in white communities.
Next: Don’t underestimate the power of satisfied employees.
2. Employees never seem happy to be there
If anybody is more dissatisfied with Walmart than customers, it’s the company’s employees. Workers complain about stagnating wages and inadequate training. However, Fortune reports that Walmart has begun to correct the problem.
The company has invested in raises, bonuses, and additional training. The Washington Post notes the company also shifted to a new scheduling system that gives employees more control. The changes should translate into happier employees — and better customer service — at your local Walmart.
Next: If you must shop at Walmart, do this.
1. The best way to grocery shop at Walmart is avoiding Walmart
CBS reports that part of the Walmart grocery earning praise from customers is a service that helps customers avoid entering the store at all. In more than 30 states, Walmart offers a curbside service called Online Grocery Pickup. So you can order food from the Walmart grocery on the company’s app or website. Then, you drive to your local Walmart, and employees deliver the groceries to your car. Walmart is also testing a home delivery service in partnership with Deliv, Lyft, and Uber.