16 Secrets Walmart Shoppers Need to Know
Whether you love or hate Walmart, if you’re shopping there then saving money is your goal. The big box store is known for its deals on groceries, clothing, and home goods — not to mention the occasional steal in the electronics or toy section.
According to Statistic Brain, 90% of Americans live within 15 minutes of a Walmart. The site estimates consumers spend $36.7 million every hour of the day at Walmarts worldwide — likely why the company reported 2016’s revenue at $485.9 billion. Of course, many shoppers don’t care how much Walmart makes as long as they save money. You can make low prices even lower with a few tricks. Learn these Walmart secrets to save money.
1. Know when deep discounts happen
Walmart’s Black Friday deals can be quite a steal depending on the item. In the days leading up to Black Friday, monitor product roundups so you can compare Walmart’s prices to other retailers. GO Banking Rates says many retailers — Walmart included — also have a week or two of huge sales during July to compete with Amazon’s Prime Days.
On a more regular basis, Good Housekeeping reports many Walmart stores discount the most items for the best prices on certain days. Watch for your local store’s pattern, though the magazine suggests most Walmart locations have the best discounts on Tuesdays.
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2. Find the dollar deals
Unlike the Dollar Menu at McDonald’s, dollar deals still exist at Walmart. You just need to know where to look for them. GO Banking Rates reports certain grooming products, such as deodorant and shampoo, can be found for a dollar, as well as other items. I Heart the Mart maintains an entire website page with the dollar deals you can find each week.
Next: The best time to shop
3. Shop early for grocery discounts
Most people know to snag day-old bread and baked goods early in the morning, when unsold food from the day before gets marked down. But the same can go for meats and other items nearing their sell-by dates. According to Passion for Savings, most Walmart butchers follow a routine for marking down meat. You can ask them about which days they do this, or simply watch for a pattern. Either way, most frugal experts suggest shopping in the morning to grab these deals before they’re gone.
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4. Search for competitor coupons
For a store that loves deals, why doesn’t Walmart have its own coupons? Well, it does — sort of. Besides allowing coupons to turn into cash on your purchases, Walmart accepts competitor coupons, Good Housekeeping reports. The only rule: Coupons must list a specific price, not just “20% off,” for example.
Next: Find the discounted items.
5. Know where the discounted items are
Every Walmart has a clearance section — you just need to ask a manager where to find it. Most stores keep their markdowns near the toys or the lawn and garden section, GO Banking Rates reports. Look for discounts in other areas, too. Some electronics will be on the lowest shelves of glass cases in their department, Rather-Be-Shopping.com reports. End caps are also a prime spot for markdowns in most Walmart stores, The Penny Hoarder notes.
Next: Getting online prices in the store
6. Get the online prices in the store
If you see a great deal on Walmart’s website, the company will match the price in-store. As with most price matching, the item must be the exact same product. One shopper told GO Banking Rates she simply pulls up the discounted item on her phone’s browser, and the cashier adjusts it. If you shop exclusively online, the company will price match any Walmart.com item with the same item from several online retailers, including Amazon, Lowes.com, Target.com, and more. (Rather-Be-Shopping.com has a comprehensive list.)
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7. Get free shipping on any purchase
Walmart offers free shipping on any $35+ online order. If your purchase is less than that, savvy Walmart shoppers select the ship-to-store option. In most cases, those items can be picked up on the same day as the order. You must leave your house, yes. But plan the order pickup during other errands, and you won’t waste much time.
Next: How to read price tag codes to save money
8. Master the price tag code
You may want to snap up a new lamp or toaster the minute you see a sale sign. But know Walmart’s price tag system. If a price ends in 7, such as $5.97, it’s typically the original price. Items ending in a 5 have been discounted once. Items ending with a 1 are at their final markdown price. If plenty of items are in stock and the price ends with a 5, you may want to wait to see whether the price comes down again.
The good news: If you don’t feel like remembering the code, Walmart also offers price protection. If you bought an item in the store and that same in-store item drops in price within the week you bought it, all you have to do is show the receipt to customer service within a week.
Next: Use technology to your advantage.
9. Download the Savings Catcher app
Saving money at Walmart does not get easier than this. All you have to do is download the Savings Catcher app, and scan your Walmart receipts within a week of shopping. The app compares what you paid with competitors’ prices and automatically credits you back on an e-card if you paid more at Walmart. This way, there’s no need to return to the store for a price adjustment. You simply use the credited savings the next time you shop.
Next: Pay attention to the competition.
10. Know the competition
There’s a retail feud brewing, and you as the consumer can score big. As two of the largest retailers, Amazon and Walmart are constantly trying to outdo each other for your business. When one announces a new shopping perk, the other comes back swinging.
Walmart shoppers have seen several benefits from the rise of Amazon. For one, to compete with Amazon’s speedy Prime shipping, Walmart recently started offering free two-day shipping on orders of $35 or more. Plus, Walmart is testing grocery delivery through Uber and Lyft, as well as curbside store pickup, to compete with AmazonFresh. Stay on top of these trends to save time and money.
Next: Who doesn’t like free things?
11. Use the free grocery pickup option
Avoid impulse purchases by shopping for groceries online and picking them up at your local Walmart without even stepping inside. A Walmart employee will load your purchases directly into your car. Pickup is completely free, and it will save you the time you normally spend pushing a cart, too. In some markets, you can even have the groceries delivered to your home, though varying fees will apply.
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12. Skip anything organic
Walmart is all about unbeatable deals, but it falls short in this category. An analysis by Kiplinger found Aldi and Trader Joe’s typically have the lowest prices on organic fruits and vegetables. On the bright side, the analysis found Walmart has many organic products with prices on par with their non-organic counterparts. So it pays to shop around.
Next: Finding bargains online
13. Find refurbished and clearance items online
Most Walmart shoppers say the website isn’t the most intuitive — especially if you want to find clearance or refurbished items. The best trick: Simply type “refurbished” or “clearance” into the Walmart search bar, and the entire section will appear.
In the case of refurbished electronics, most of them will have the manufacturer’s warranty intact — for a much cheaper price tag than a new version. Browsing the clearance items might be a great way to find deals on items you need anyway. And again, free shipping or ship-to-store options mean you won’t pay more than you have to.
Next: Play the numbers game with coupons and you’ll win big.
14. Use coupons to get you cash
Even if you refuse to be a crazy coupon shopper, it pays to use them at Walmart. The chain is one of the few companies that allows you to credit excess money toward the rest of your order. For example, if you buy an item on sale at $3.05 with a $4-off coupon, you can keep the balance of $0.95 and put it toward the rest of your purchases.
Most other stores don’t allow that perk, so take advantage of it if you see coupons. If you don’t get a circular, check online for coupons and Walmart-centric deals at places like Coupons.com, I Heart the Mart, and Passion for Savings. Passion for Savings also notes when the store posts special deals through social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, so it can be helpful to pay attention to any special offers there, too.
Next: That dresser will break in a month.
15. Don’t be sucked in by cheap furniture
Yes, Walmart furniture is cheap — for good reason. With a higher price tag comes quality and longevity. You might have to replace a Walmart furniture piece so often that you actually spend more in the long run than you would on a quality piece. Although GO Banking Rates says Walmart furniture is great for college students on a budget, it’s best to invest in quality furniture that will last.
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16. Avoid store-brand supplements
You like to know what you’re getting when you take a pill, right? And you assume what’s written on the label is exactly what you’re choking down your throat. Well, that’s not always the case.
The New York attorney general’s office recently found many store-brand herbal supplements — including those sold at Walmart — did not contain the herbs they claimed to have. According to the study, Walmart had the worst results. Only 4% of the supplements tested actually contained the herbs they claimed to have. Some experts questioned the extreme results of the study, but nonetheless Walmart said it would “respond appropriately.”
Additional reporting by Mary Daly.