For decades, Walmart has been known as the big-box retailer with low prices and friendly sales associates with welcoming smiles. But no store is perfect, and Walmart has its own shortcomings.
Following are some of Walmart’s biggest problems and challenges. Knowing about these less obvious downsides to shopping at Walmart can help you make smarter money moves and eliminate financial stress.
Prices aren’t always the cheapest
Walmart often sells items at the lowest prices you will find anywhere. But “often” is not “always.” Sometimes, you can get a better deal elsewhere.
And even if Walmart does have the lowest price on an item, chances are good that another retailer such as Target will match it with a price-match guarantee.
Pro tip: If you like to comparison shop, make sure you’re in the know when it comes to these genius Costco shopping hacks.
Quality is not always the best
As we all learn over time, you typically get what you pay for. If you are getting a product for a much lower price at Walmart than what you would pay elsewhere, you might be accepting the tradeoff of reduced quality.
Because Walmart specializes in low-cost merchandise, they aren’t promising great quality.
Some find the store layout confusing
Some shoppers complain that Walmart stores are messy, visually confusing, and not always sparkling clean. This makes for a shopping experience that takes too much time and is frustrating for customers.
Walmart seems to be aware of this problem. In 2021, it began redesigning its stores with the goal of enhancing navigation and wayfinding.
Great Value products might not save you much
Walmart’s store brand is called Great Value, and it is sought out by those looking for a low price. However, when comparing Great Value products against name-brand competitors, it’s important to focus on unit sizes, as well as servings and serving sizes.
If you do this, you might find that Great Value doesn’t always save big money compared to name brands. Don’t simply assume that buying the Great Value brand is the wisest way to shop.
Pro tip: If you’re trying to save money on your food spending, consider using one of the best credit cards for groceries to earn cash back or rewards.
Walmart Plus isn’t always worth it
In September 2020, Walmart introduced Walmart Plus, a membership program that gives members discounts on home deliveries and on in-store items and deals.
Members of Walmart Plus pay a monthly fee of $12.95 or a yearly fee of $98 and get free home deliveries on orders over $35. If you’re a frequent Walmart home-delivery shopper, the program might make sense
However, membership isn’t right for everyone. For example, sign up for a competing service like Amazon Prime and you can get free shipping with no minimum. Walmart Plus makes the most sense for those who are committed to doing the vast majority of their shopping at Walmart.
Some shoppers want more customer service
Some Walmart critics say the stores are understaffed. Other critics bemoan the fact that employees are spread out all over the store, making it difficult to ask these employees for help.
Finally, some shoppers charge that Walmart managers are not available when customers need help.
Customer satisfaction is low
Based on numerous surveys and reviews over the years, it’s safe to say that not all Walmart customers are satisfied with their experiences in the store. Walmart has been found to rank lower in customer satisfaction than other grocery store chains and big-box retailers.
Some say it’s bad for local economies
For decades, Walmart has had the reputation of coming into a local area that supports local retail, and then selling loss leaders and undercutting local retailers to put them out of business. Critics say this has destroyed thriving local economies while pumping more money into Walmart’s headquarters in Arkansas.
This effect is so well-known that when community members find out that Walmart has targeted their area, they sometimes form activist groups to use legal processes to prevent Walmart from coming in to destroy their local economy.
Some people love Walmart for its low prices and huge selection. But other aspects of shopping at Walmart give some folks pause.
There is no question you can save money by shopping at Walmart. But to get the best deal — and to feel good about doing so — make sure you weigh the concerns on this list before heading out to shop so you can stop throwing away your money.