15 Things You Should Never Buy at Target

MANAGE MONEY - SHOPPING
Steer clear of these 15 items on your next Target run.
Updated Feb. 16, 2024
Fact checked
Target store in Hillsboro Oregon

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Target is a go-to destination for many who want to indulge in a little retail therapy. There’s something about the mix of decorative pillows, tasty snacks, and seasonal decor.

But while strolling the red-and-white aisles may send you to your happy place, you might not be as thrilled with some of your purchases when you get home.

Here’s a list of 15 items you should pass on when shopping at Target. Consider this your guide to avoiding buyer’s remorse at the bullseye and a way to keep more cash in your wallet.

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Greeting cards

ColleenMichaels/Adobe greeting cards for sale inside the gift section

An item that is overpriced in general but especially so at Target. Ranging anywhere from $4 to $7, you could avoid throwing away money by picking up a card at your local dollar store. 

Produce

Michal/Adobe market near vegetable shelves

Although you can pick up some apples or oranges while you’re there, Target doesn’t carry a large stock of produce in their stores. 

Items are more expensive here than in a typical grocery store, and their weekly sales ad focuses more on linens, clothing, and non-perishable items than on fresh produce.

Craft supplies

donatas1205/Adobe crafting supplies scattered on table

Many stores offer similar craft products at better prices than Target. For example, Target offers a rock painting kit for $14.99, but you can find similar ones for much less at Michael’s and Amazon.

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Pet food

LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe Dog eating food from bowl

Selling items in bulk isn’t Target’s thing, so you can often find better deals on large purchases like dog and cat food at other places. For instance, large bags of Purina dog food are about $3 cheaper at Tractor Supply and Walmart.

Books

ViDi Studio/Adobe drinking coffee while reading book

Plan on paying full price for books you buy at Target. Whether you’re picking up a new romance novel or the latest bestselling nonfiction, online markets like eBay, Abebooks, and Thriftbooks are bound to have better prices (no pun intended).

Plus, these sites offer used versions that keep more money in your wallet and more books out of landfills. Win-win.

Decorative storage bins

Julia/Adobe decorative bins and baskets

Another item to skip at Target is storage bins. For instance, you can get one fabric storage bin for $33 or multiple storage bins from Amazon or Wayfair for the same price or less. 

Plastic containers are cheaper, but stores like Michael’s and Hobby Lobby still beat Target’s prices.

Sandals

ladyalex/Adobe flip flops on blue wooden floor

Most sandals aren’t built with durability in mind, but they’re still very practical to wear to the beach or pool. 

You can usually snag a pair of affordable flip-flops for a few bucks at Old Navy or even the dollar store. Meanwhile, the sandals at Target don’t carry any higher quality — only a higher price tag.

Batteries

Gudellaphoto/Adobe batteries

Amazon has a better deal on off-brand batteries than Target, but Costco is the way to go if you want a good deal on a large supply of batteries. 

Because Target is known for selling items in bulk, you’re usually better off buying something with a long shelf life (such as batteries) from places that do.

Charging cables

patpitchaya/Adobe charging phone on table via usb

You generally don’t want to skimp on electronics, and charging cables are no different. Target’s HeyDay brand is frequently mentioned on Reddit because of its low quality. This is a classic example of “you get what you pay for.”

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Meat

IMAGINIST : Food/Adobe medium rare beef steak with vegetables

Target carries a limited selection of fresh foods compared to most grocers, and few (if any) Target stores have a dedicated butcher. This will limit your choice of fresh meats, most of which may be more expensive than at places like Walmart.

Toys

Oksana Kuzmina/Adobe preschool teacher and cute kids

Target offers decent Black Friday specials on gifts for your little ones, but you’re usually better off shopping elsewhere during other times of the year. Amazon and Walmart tend to be low-price leaders for toys, while Target offers the same items at higher prices.

Luggage

(JLco) Julia Amaral/Adobe retired woman packing

Heading out of town on vacation? There are better places to pick up luggage. You’re better off with the usual suspects like Amazon and Walmart. You might even be surprised by other retailers like Home Depot that can beat Target on the cost of suitcases.

Gift wrap

pressmaster/Adobe preparing Christmas gifts

Much like greeting cards, you’ll also want to avoid gift wrap at Target. The dollar store holds the greatest chance for bargain prices; the same goes for accessories like ribbon and tape. 

Sure, Target has some of the cutest patterns, but is it worth paying several times more for something you’ll likely throw away?

Prescription drugs

AndErsoN/Adobe medical pills pouring

Target’s pharmacy is managed by CVS, which can be hit or miss when it comes to the cost of medications. According to SingleCare’s pharmacy lookup tool, medications at other pharmacies cost less than CVS.

Body wash

New Africa/Adobe woman pumping out liquid soap in hand at bathroom

The price is about the same between Target, Walmart, and Amazon for single bottles of body wash. 

However, other vendors (including warehouses like Sam’s Club) tend to offer multipacks, which can be a great way to pay less per ounce than buying single bottles at Target.

Bottom line

Mediteraneo/Adobe family buying food at grocery store

Steer clear of the categories listed until you find better deals elsewhere. But remember, even items on this list can be steals with the right sale.

Keep an eye on your frequently bought items and look for ways to save on everyday essentials when those amazing deals strike.

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Author Details

Jenni Sisson Jenni Sisson is a freelance writer and editor who focuses on personal finance, real estate, and entrepreneurship. She has been published in Business Insider and The Ways to Wealth. In addition to writing, Jenni hosts the Mama's Money Map podcast to help fellow stay-at-home moms on their journey to financial freedom.

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