8 Things We All Hate About Target (But Are Scared to Admit)

There are downsides to shopping at Target, and more customers are taking notice.

target store in hillsboro
Updated July 18, 2024
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Many consumers love to shop at Target. The retailer sells great items, including a wide variety of Target-owned brands.

And with Target Circle and other shopping hacks, shoppers can save tons of money at the retailer.

However, while Target has an almost cult following and many loyal shoppers, it’s easy to overlook the retailer’s negative qualities. Here are some of the things many shoppers hate about Target.

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Some basic items are locked up

John Hanson Pye/Adobe underwear tank tops

Target is one of several retailers that have resorted to locking up basic necessities — such as underwear and toiletries — in an effort to deter shoplifting.

However, these security measures can create an inconvenient shopping experience for law-abiding consumers.

One Reddit user stated they had to call an employee to open three separate cases within a 30-minute time period. The items locked were toothpaste, body wash, and laundry detergent.

Someone else posted on Reddit that they weren’t going inside Target to “hunt down nonexistent employees” to unlock items.

Stores are often messy

MelissaMN/Adobe clearance and sale section

Several customers have complained about Target stores being messy. One Reddit user posted in the subreddit r/Target that “a totally messy store is more the norm than the exception.”

However, it’s generally shoppers who create the chaos when they dig through items and then leave the mess for employees to handle. One Target employee commented that although they pick up as much as possible, the messes return a few hours later.

Stock can be ‘hit and miss’

tsuguliev/Adobe view of empty supermarket shelves

If you are heading to Target for something specific, there are no guarantees you will find it. Items are sometimes out of stock, leaving some shelves almost completely empty.

A Reddit user posted that their Target run was a waste of time, partially due to eight items on their shopping list being out of stock. Another commented that it was surprising when they found everything they needed at Target.

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Clothing can be lackluster and of low quality

Ivan Kurmyshov/Adobe clothing on hanger

Target offers several clothing brands, but customers complain that some brands offer better quality than others.

To avoid accidentally purchasing low-quality clothing, Target customers can check out online reviews and inspect clothing items in person before buying them.

Thankfully, Target’s return policy allows for up to 90 days to return most items, with an extra 30 days for those who pay with a Target Circle Card or are Target Circle 360 members. And for Target-owned brands or registry items, you have up to one year to “change your mind.”

Produce can be awful

olinchuk/Adobe vegetable farmer market counter

Consumer Reports once noted that customers give Target and Walmart the “lowest marks” for produce quality.

It can be even tougher to get top-quality produce at Target if you are a pickup customer. That’s because while customers are likely to dig through to find the freshest produce, employees might not do so.

Many shoppers choose to purchase their produce from local farmers markets or grocery store chains instead.

Prices are higher than at Walmart

MKPhoto/Adobe red grocery shopping cart

Target is sometimes thought off as a higher-scale Walmart, yet the two retailers offer many of the same products. However, Target often charges more than Walmart for the same item.

A former Target team leader posted to Quora that employees spend a lot of time keeping things “brand” — meaning they go out of their way to maintain the higher-end shopping experience.

So, perhaps Target charges more for a “special” experience. If you’re only concerned with getting the best deal, check Walmart’s prices first.

Self-checkout is often closed

Tada Images/Adobe checkout lanes in target store

Self-checkout is the preferred option for some customers. It’s often more convenient and faster.

However, several retailers across the U.S. have made changes to self-checkout in an effort to reduce theft. For example, Dollar General has completely closed many of its self-checkouts.

Target’s approach has been to limit the amount of items customers can use at these self-service registers. And occasionally, Target closes self-checkout too.

One Target shopper took to 2Peas Refugees to express their annoyance with the retailer. “Does Target not want customers anymore?” they asked, citing a months-long self-checkout closure as one of the retailer’s problems.

Their remodels don’t make sense

Tada Images/Adobe the drive up signage

Several Target shoppers have also voiced complaints on 2Peas Refugees about the stores’ remodels.

Earlier this year, one user stated that Target “has gotten bad enough that I am starting to believe the conspiracy theory that Target is trying to force ppl into curbside and delivery.”

Another poster commented that a handwritten sign near the entrance telling customers to "Come Inside for Curbside Pickup” told them a lot about Target’s customer service.

Bottom line

sheilaf2002/Adobe target shopping center

Despite Target’s flaws, shopping at the retailer can still be a smart way to save money — on some items, at least. While you might want to skip the produce and poor-quality clothing, there are plenty of Target product offerings that are great deals.

Knowing what to expect before you get to the store can help you prepare for a less stressful shopping experience. For example, if you don’t want to wait for Target team members to unlock items, consider opting for curbside pickup instead.

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Author Details

Katelyn Washington

Katelyn Washington is a writer with a passion for finance and business. She put herself through business school as a single mother of three and has had pieces commissioned by national magazines. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and editing manuscripts for indie authors.