America has a love-hate relationship with Walmart, one of the largest retailers in the nation. Some shoppers remain loyal to the chain that offers low prices on everyday items, while others protest controversial practices the store commonly engages in.
For most, Walmart is inescapable as 90% of Americans live within 10 miles of a store. But that doesn’t mean everyone’s willing to make the drive. For one, they’ve debuted more fitting e-commerce practices to compete with Amazon. But shopping in the store can be widely expensive and inconvenient for customers in hurry. Here are 10 reasons why shopping at a brick-and-mortar Walmart location is a waste of money.
1. The parking lot is an instant frustration
The Walmart parking lot is kind of notorious. Yes, you can live there, but is it really a smart idea? It’s a haven for crime (as we’ll see later) but customers hate how crowded the lot can get with shopping carts that never seem to make it to its rightful corral holder. Expect to be dodging kids, cars, RVs, and shopping carts just to find a place to park. Inside, they’re known for being a mess, with merchandise littered throughout the aisles and shelves haphazardly stocked with items.
Next: Are you willing to wait in line for up to an hour? Some people do.
2. The check-out lines are long
There is no such thing as a quick in-and-out trip at Walmart. A common complaint about shopping there is the terribly long check-out lines. In the words of one baffled Reddit user, “Why does Walmart have 36 check-out lines if only 5 are open?” The average wait time in a New York store is about 11 minutes but can swell to 55 to 70 minutes during peak times. Walmart attempted to speed up the process with a solution. Of course, the only way you can skip traditional lines and access express lanes is by downloading the Walmart App on your phone.
Next: It’s also pretty dangerous
3. It can be dangerous to shop there
A trip to Walmart can be a dangerous endeavor. The retail chain has become a hotbed for crimes from shoplifting and stabbing to manslaughter and attempted kidnapping in 2016, according to police. Local police describe the calls for additional security at Walmart exhausting and blame the store layouts for their ability to attract dangerous criminals. Self-checkout scanners also make it easier to engage in shoplifting activities without detection.
Next: Is buying their products worth the money saved?
4. They sometimes sell lower quality products you’ll need to replace sooner
A Reddit thread notes that, yes, prices can be a bargain, but the quality may suffer as a result. Readers say most t-shirts and outerwear can be bought for cheap, but footwear isn’t worth its weight in rubber. Other products like furniture and laptops are lower quality and will last longer if purchased elsewhere.
Some believe the store sells lower-quality foods too. A Slate analysis showed about 54% of food sold at Walmart would never be sold at Whole Foods due to it’s “unacceptable ingredients for food.” This would be ingredients like MSG, high-fructose corn syrup, and other unhealthy preservatives.
Next: You may not find what you need
5. Empty shelves are all too common
Walmart employees readily admit there’s a problem with empty shelves in its stores. Consumers began to notice the store had trouble keeping shelves fully stocked, despite available inventory in back. The company blamed themselves for mismanaging its rapid growth and not hiring enough employees to oversee it.
The Consumerist notes 1,500 new stores opened during the past few years, resulting in a 45% increase in overall footprint. Yet the U.S. workforce only bumped up by 8%. Impending hiring spree or not, what’s the point in trekking to the store if you won’t find what you need?
Next: You may have to return produce
6. Produce doesn’t last as long
Walmart launched a program selling dented, but usable, produce at a discount through its “I’m Perfect” program in hopes of reducing food waste. A noble feat, indeed, but consumers were issuing countless complaints about Walmart selling bad produce even before this initiative began. Shoppers have little confidence in the freshness of the fruit at Walmart and have pushed for delivery improvements and a money-back guarantee when the produce they buy spoils faster than usual.
Next: The outing may not add up
7. Many items aren’t any cheaper at Walmart
Countless comparisons have been made between Walmart and other large retailers like Target, Costco, and Aldi. The store is commonly regarded for its low prices (which is true in many ways), but some items are actually more expensive at Walmart. And if significant savings aren’t earned, a stressful outing to Walmart becomes worthless. Things such as organic produce, nuts, gift cards, batteries, electronics, and furniture are all items that are best left on the shelves if you’re looking for a deal.
Next: Online options for the win
8. Online options make a store trip unnecessary
Not all Walmart stores are created equal. Some Walmart locations lack a deli or bakery section in their stores — two departments most Americans love to visit when they grocery shop. In this instance, it’s more effective to shop online where everyone has access to the same inventory rather than in-store.
Next: Another reason why online shopping is a better option
9. They have free shipping
To compete with Amazon, Walmart announced free two-day shipping to home and stores on more than two million items — no membership required. They also lowered the minimum purchase required for free shipping to homes to $35, down from $50. Add in the benefits of Walmart grocery pick-up, and a trip through the sliding doors becomes completely unnecessary.
Next: You may want to shop at Amazon instead anyway!
10. Amazon Prime does it better — in some ways
Personal finance site Frugal Rules compared the price of everyday household items at Walmart to Amazon Prime. Amazon recently debuted Prime Pantry, making it easier for customers to order grocery and pantry items online. While Walmart was the cheaper option for items like diapers and paper towels, Amazon Prime was the better option for toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, and trash bags. Add in the time saved by not navigating the Walmart aisles, and it’s just another reason why a trip to Walmart is a waste.
Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.
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