Recession Watch: Walmart Up, Target Down

Walmart is winning the big box retail war it seems. They reported same-store October sales were up 2.4 percent versus October 2007. Target, however, lagged behind, with same store sales dropping 4.8%.

“Sales for the month of October were very disappointing, with continued volatility in daily results,” said Gregg Steinhafel, president and CEO of Target Corp. “We expect the recent challenging sales environment to continue into the holiday season and beyond as a result of the economic factors currently affecting consumer spending.”

Walmart is apparently benefiting from a new found frugality among American shoppers.

Are you abandoning Target for Walmart? Or just spending less at Target? What’s up?

Wal-Mart sales up, Target down [Bizjournals]
(Photo: fleamobile )


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  1. lalaland13 says:

    Well our Target here is still pretty new, and I’ve been able to cut back a lot on Wal-Mart visits by going there. So yay for that. It’s nicer and cleaner and easier to get in and out of.

    • Yokai Monsters Spook Warfare says:

      @lalaland13: For me it is the opposite. The Targets near me are older and dirtier, whereas the WalMarts are newer and cleaner…I live in a weird paradox world, I think….

      • Serpephone says:

        @StellaBella07: Yeah, for me too. The Targets never have what I am looking for, usually only have two registers open, and are just as dirty/dirtier than Wal-Mart. We have a brand new Wal-Mart near where I work that is fantastic–clean, smells nice, and always has what I need in stock.

    • Ein2015 says:

      @lalaland13: The target near me is better than the Walmart… but they did just remodel the Walmart too so it’s getting better, but can never beat the target.

  2. rachaeljean says:

    My Walmart is within walking or biking distance, and it’s a new, very clean and modern Super Walmart. I have definitely stopped going to Target as much. Walmart’s prices can’t be beat, and they’re open 24 hours a day for those late night cravings, haha.

    I even recently lost my Walmart clothing virginity, in the name of frugality! Walmart had the same Levi’s as Macy’s and Target for women, but at Walmart they were something crazy like $10 or $20 a pair, as opposed to $35 or $50 even. So, yeah. I bought clothes at Walmart for the first time ever. And I didn’t die. And I like my new jeans. Chinese-made-jeans are Chinese-made-jeans, no matter where you buy them I guess.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @rachaeljean: Wal-Mart’s versions of Levi’s really aren’t the same Levis from Macy’s…the brand’s the same, the quality isn’t. That said, I never liked Levis, but I won’t buy clothes at Wal-Mart.

      • rachaeljean says:

        @IHaveAFreezeRay: I actually went and tried them on at Macy’s first (since I had a coupon or some such thing) to compare. Same style. Same material. Same amount of Lycra. Slightly different branding. That’s the difference. I swear.

        • SmoovyG says:

          @rachaeljean: I’d be highly skeptical of that conclusion. My wife has 15 years experience in the fashion industry, and she’s never had a line go into Wal-Mart that was the same level of quality as Target, Bealls or any of the other department stores. the same cut and a similar feel, sure, but there’s always a corner or three cut in production in order to reach that Wal-Mart price point..

    • evilrobot says:

      IHaveAFreezeRay is correct. Certainly the clothes will look similar, but they aren’t the same. Levis (or whoever) will develop a product to hit a certain price point for a retailer.

      • tmlfan81 says:

        @evilrobot: I’ve gotten quite a bit of wear out of the clothes I have purchased from Wal-Mart. Regardless of where you buy your clothes, you have to take care of them. With care and due diligence, you can look respectable and get your clothes from Wal-Mart.

        • Anonymous says:

          @tmlfan81: No matter where you buy your clothes, you have to take care of them. I’ve managed to get a cheap pair of pants I bought for $10 at Walmart last for over 4 years and counting. They still look brand new.

          My secret is if it is black or red I never put it into the dryer, don’t wash it unless you are positive it is dirty, use half as much laundry soap as recommended, and I use white vinegar for a fabric softener. It’s kept most of my stuff looking great for, well, years.

          My current socioeconomic status of “broke student” dictates I have to buy cheap. If you are careful, you can get your clothes at Walmart. Goodwill is a good spot too at the end of Spring semester.

          However, I have yet to find clothing at Target worth the extra money over Walmart’s crap. I’d rather save and take a big step up to a mall department store during one of their big sales.

      • LoriLynn says:

        @evilrobot: and sony, and hp, and…

      • rachaeljean says:

        @evilrobot: Yep, you’re right on the different product lines. But, I wasn’t looking at the high end Levi’s (I think they start at $90 a pair) at Macy’s though… their cheapest ones – the ones that were on sale for $35. The only appreciable difference between those ones and the Walmart ones was the branding on the butt.

        • JustinAche says:

          @rachaeljean: I’ve been shopping at Goodwill for jeans lately. Been losing alot of weight, and my wallet can’t keep up with the sizes, but I just got a pair of Express Mens pants for $5, and they are awesome looking. Too bad/It’s great that they’ll only be good as fat pants in another 4 months or so :)

        • hippybear says:

          @rachaeljean: Really, not checking prices on jeans at Farm & Ranch stores is silly. A local store here carries durable Shrink-to-fit jeans, unshrunk, for $27. The cheapest I’ve found the exact same jeans at stores which cater to clothing or general merch, such as K-Mart (which doesn’t carry them, anyway), is about $45.

          Really, Farm & Ranch stores are great places to shop for durable clothing of any sort, at a good price.

    • mackjaz says:

      @rachaeljean: I don’t mean to flog a dead horse here, but there is a cost everytime one spends money at Waldemort.

      It’s a vote in dollars for an evil company that victimizes its employees, abuses cheap overseas labor (slaves), costs decent Americans their manufacturing jobs, and taxes local government health care systems. Waldemort is a net-drain on government services.

      There is a hidden cost to unnaturally cheap products.

  3. Git Em SteveDave loves this guy--> says:

    My theory is that Target’s goods last longer, so people don’t go back as often. Wal-Marts good are cheaper, but crappier/shoddier/toxicier, so they break/kill quicker, and people go back to buy it at WalMart again b/c it’s cheaper. But if you buy it twice, it ends up costing more. Just my 2 cents.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @Git Em SteveDave loves this guy–>: I think this too, so I don’t shop at Wal-Mart because I figure I’ll have to go back to replace it anyway. Wonderbread at Wal-Mart is still the same Wonderbread everywhere else, so you can’t necessarily apply this idea to food, but I don’t like the idea of Wal-Mart squeezing its manufacturers to keep costs low, so I won’t support it.

      • Git Em SteveDave loves this guy--> says:

        @IHaveAFreezeRay: I also like the service at Target better. Despite having 30 registers at the front of their store, in my experiences at my Walmarts, I am lucky if three are ever staffed. It got so bad for me that I have the phone numbers for all the local Walmarts in my cell phone. Whenever I am stuck on a 7+ person line, as are the other two registers, I will call the store and ask to speak to the manager. I then politely tell them I am in the store, waiting to check out with many other people, and they need to send some more people to ring. Doesn’t always help, but sometimes it does. I do admit I don’t shop there regularly, but I do look at the fliers that show up in my mail. I stop in there for their sewing section and to check out their sports dept. clearances, as getting wool socks for 1.50-2.00 a pair is not only frugal, it’s comfortable as hell in a house with hard wood floors in the winter. :)

    • tande04 says:

      @Git Em SteveDave loves this guy–>: Plus you can’t even apply that to all products across the board. I bought a pair of panasonic headphones from wal-mart ( with site to store actually) the other day for a fraction of the price that they were at Target (where I originaly saw them).

      I can see your point, but I can buy cheap shit that will break just as easily at Target as I can at Wal-Mart.

      I think its just the “everyone moves down a level” type thing. Wasn’t that long ago you were reading stories about people who were leaving high end department stores to shop at “tar’ge” and now there are probably a lot of the target shoppers that bumped down to Wal-Mart.

      I just tend not to shop one place and one place only. Maybe its costing me more in gas then its worth but they’re all close for me so I doubt it. If I know something is cheaper at Wal-Mart, yeah I’ll get it there. I just don’t go in assuming that everything I buy will be cheaper because more often then not I’ve found it isn’t.

  4. Blueskylaw says:

    They spelled the words in that sign correctly?

  5. Spider Jerusalem says:

    I love Target, but:

    1) Their clothes don’t cover my booby size, so I have to shop at non-low price stores, which blows. Even their 2X swim suits only have b-cups.

    2) They don’t make enough quality-yet-affordable furniture. They try, and I like the pieces I have from them, but I’m still scrounging CL to find bunk beds on the cheap, and their seating sucks. Also a lot of their more sophisticated pieces are too dark for my aesthetic.

    3) Their technology section doesn’t have anything I NEEEEED right now. I have a Fry’s though.

    • tande04 says:

      @SpiderJerusalem: You could make the argument that no one’s tehcnology section has anything you NEEEEED.

      Just out of curiosity what is Target missing in that area? I can’t think of anything I’d have to go to BB or the like for that I couldn’t find same or simlar to at Target.

      • Spider Jerusalem says:

        @tande04: You could make that argument, but then you’d be obnoxious. My life is lived through technology. I need a certain things to fulfill my role in society.

    • battra92 says:

      @SpiderJerusalem: I’m not questioning you but an ex of mine *LOVED* clothes and bra shopping at Target and she was a D cup.

      Of course I always felt like a perv standing there in the middle of the bra section while she was in the fitting rooms.

      • Spider Jerusalem says:

        @battra92: Again, not bras; clothes. If there’s a dress with a bodice part, or a “booby” part sewn in, it won’t come close to fitting my boobs and the seams will go across unpleasant parts of my boobs. Also, like I said, their swimsuits. They size them by size, not by cup.

  6. smallestmills says:

    I LOVE TARGET! Unfortunately, I have had to cut my weekly visits with a $60 allowance down to one monthly visit with the same amount of money. (Job switch=poor.) I live in suburban Detroit…I’m sure there are Wal*Mart stores around but I have yet to set foot in one, nor do I plan on it.

  7. tmlfan81 says:

    I can have just as bad of an experience at Target as I could at Wal-Mart, and vice versa. Same could be said of retailer mashed up with Wal-Mart. I understand why Wally World has such a bad reputation, but right now with finances being tight as they are for a lot of people I know, I haven’t had to adjust all that much. Without Wal-Mart, I can honestly say that it would be really hard for my family.

    Wal-Mart is a close drive away, and when our house closes we’ll be even closer to them – like five minutes now instead of ten. Between them and ordering online I really have no use for other brick and mortar stores.

  8. bullwhip6 says:

    I have to disagree on the quality issue. I have purchased $50 work shirts from the likes of Macy’s, Marshall Fields (now Macy’s), and Brooke’s Brothers. Those shirts have lasted me less than 1 year. The Walmart(s) near me sold similar style shirts for $17 per and those shirts are now nearing 2 years of use and going strong. Food prices, you can’t beat it. And lately, I’ve been seeing a lot more upper end cars in the parking lot.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I like to try to shop at my local Giant Eagle (it’s union and whatnot), but, God help me, I’ve been shopping at Wal-Mart a lot recently. Bottom line: Wal-Mart has the same stuff as everywhere else for a lot less money. With my paycheck going the way it’s going, I rejoice for the chance to save five bucks on toilet paper. I’m turning into my mom.

  10. Starfury says:

    I can’t stand shopping at Wal Mart but do end up there at times for certain items. I’d rather go to Target and spend a little more for a cleaner/better organized store.

    Overall we’ve just quit shopping to shop. We used to “hit the mall” and end up with a bunch of crud we didn’t need. Now we stay home and play boardgames/watch movies. It’s not that we’re making less money or because our 401k is down; we’re just spending less.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @Starfury: The Wal-Mart near me is just extremely busy, crowded and poorly lit all the time. It’s dank in there, people are rushing around the store with their carts, acting like everything is free. I hate it, I hate dealing with the employees, I hate going to the front to pay, only to see two lines open and 40 people in each. No thanks, I’ll go to Target (which is in the same shopping center) where things are better organized, the staff is helpful, and there are at least 6 cash registers open.

    • ElizabethD says:


      I’m with you on no more shopping just to shop. My daughter will be home from college for Thanksgiving and wants me to go with her to the nearest big outlet mall, and I said, You know, we don’t really need anything.

      That used to be one of our fun mother-daughter things.

      I think it’s healthy that we have to wean off “shopping as recreation.” It’s a crazy habit many of us got into. If you don’t go, you won’t buy. The end.

      • kairi2 says:

        @ElizabethD: my mom and i have that tradition too. my birthday and mothers day we go to the big outlet malls around the state. my birthday is coming up and while i don’t need anything and would rather have money to pay off some debt, i don’t dare back out for fear of wrath!

  11. battra92 says:

    I shop at both but lately I don’t seem to be buying anything at Target. Nothing against it but there’s just nothing I need. I did buy some cheap Rustler jeans and got some photos back at Walmart so they’ve gotten a little of my money.

    The Target Cafe is awesome, btw.

  12. MartaAnchises says:

    Target is, theoretically, a cleaner, higher-quality place to shop, but ever since they kicked the Salvation Army bell-ringers out, I haven’t been able to stomach doing Christmas shopping at the Grinch’s store.

  13. erratapage says:

    I don’t think you save much by going to WalMart, unless you are buying groceries. But to save on groceries, I go to Aldi.

    To save on wine, I go to Trader Joe’s.

    For everything else (except most of my clothes and shoes), I go to Target.

    • GothamGal says:

      I love Target and have never stepped foot into a Walmart. I spend about $100 a week at Target. I always need something from there.

      I so miss Trader Joe’s. I am spending too much money in Whole Foods.

    • Robobot says:

      @erratapage: What I wouldn’t give to have a Trader Joe’s and an Aldi near my house. Those are the two most consumer-friendly grocery stores, in my opinion.

      I’m happy with my local Target, I just wish they had a Super Target-sized grocery department.

  14. pixiegirl1 says:

    I shop more at Target than Walmart for myself, I’d say the products at Target are slightly better quality imo. One of the things that really bugs me about my walmart is the disgusting amount of charities they let sit outside the door begging for money. I go there pretty regularly to get my mom’s prescriptions at least once a week. Don’t get me wrong I’m all for helping the community but shit I think I should be able to run in and out of a store with out getting hassled for handouts. I donate but I donate to the charities I want to. It finally got cold here so I’m sure that will kill off most of the charities except the salvation army.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      @pixiegirl1: This is my problem with Walmart, being ambushed by a children’s hospital donation at the register, another donation at the door then a bunch of kids as you walk out the door is not my idea of friendly shopping. You cannot avoid the donations either as they are placed so you HAVE to pass through the exist with the ambushing kids.

      I do shop just to shop, but its mostly walking around the store for exercise in the cold weather here, I rarely buy the extras that we don’t need or load the cart down with stuff like everyone else does. So I shop just to shop, but I don’t necessairly buy anything while I am out shopping. Browsing is also helpful as it helps you to narrow down who changes prices the most and what the lowest price for a certain item is and who has it at that price.

    • medusasbedhead says:

      @pixiegirl1: I hear ya. I don’t care if the aggressive panhandler in question is a squeaky-clean cheerleader or a smelly bag lady; it’s obnoxious and irritating either way. (And frankly, I have issues w/giving handouts to people who don’t exactly look like they need them. I’m not exactly moved to pay for some middle class kids’ trip to Europe/Latin America.) Which is why I like Target even more now that Salvation Army bellringers aren’t begging at their doors anymore; I like to give to charity on my own time, rather than be harassed/guilted into it.

  15. CountryJustice says:

    We do all my grocery shopping at SuperTarget. If we stick to store brands (Target has a two, btw–Market Pantry and Archer Farms; both are excellent), I find that I can do as well as, if not better than, a similar experience at Wal-Mart. Bonuses include any one of three SuperTargets being closer/more convenient to my house than any one Wal-Mart, and a generally more pleasant shopping experience.

    Also, I buy everything on my Red Card and pay it off each month with money I budget for food. Once every couple months or so I get a 10% off coupon in the mail just for racking up points.

    What do I get for spending my money at Wal-Mart? A headache and a heightened case of agoraphobia.

    • Raiders757 says:


      A “Super Target”? Wow, i’ve never seen one of those.

      Our normal Target has two Super Wal-Marts within two miles of each side of it. Unreal, but they all seem to do well.

      Myself? I avoid both places a much as possible.

  16. myfigurefemale says:

    i’ve shopped at walmart maybe once in my whole life because there were never any near me until recently (i live in NYC) but have always heard how evil they were so tried to stay out. however, just watched “the high cost of low prices on netflix, and now i can say for sure i will never step in one again. the last part of the documentary is a chinese worker in a walmart factory talking about how her pain and suffering went into your $14.96 shiny new toy (that literally costs walmart 18 cents to make). everyone who shops there should watch it. they talk about a bunch of other horrible wal mart policies as well. for example, they purposely make the health benefits so expensive that no one can afford them and managers tell their employees to go on medicare instead.

  17. airdom says:

    we don’t have targets in canada, so i have to go with wal-mart ;)

  18. heyfergy says:

    I generally avoid Wal-Mart like the plague. I have found that they are usually poorly lit, messy, the employees seem like they hate their lives, and the people that shop at 1 A.M. (the only time I ever go to Wal-mart) creep the hell out of me.

    Target on the other hand has always been clean and well organized and the employees have generally been pretty friendly. I am willing to be a few extra cents for everything if I don’t feel gross while shopping somewhere.

    I must say that I went to one of the newly built Wal-Marts in my area and it actually impressed me. It has LED lighting throughout the store, a parking garage built in under the store, and it felt much cleaner than other stores I have been to. The people were still creepy though.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @heyfergy: When I was in college, there was an unspoken rule that women cannot, and do not (under any circumstances) ever go to Wal-Mart alone at night.

      Puts a little warmth in your heart, doesn’t it?

    • kairi2 says:

      @heyfergy: you can take wal mart out of the trailerpark but you can’t take the trailerpark out of walmart. :)

  19. johnnya2 says:

    I will never ever as long as I live ever set foot in a place with stretch pants wearing, curlers in their hairs, 8 kids in tow with candy bar stains on their shirts, 3 teeth in their head, and some of the largest corporate welfare takers people go to shop

  20. coan_net says:

    My local Target closed about 10 years ago…. Wal-Mart is my only choice…. unless I want to take a 45 minute car ride……

  21. Parting says:

    Costco, I prefer Costco…

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @Meltdown: Apples and oranges. Target doesn’t specialize in warehouse/bulk sales and Costco doesn’t have the kind of selection in clothing that Target has.

  22. pb5000 says:

    I get what I call “Wal-Marted out” where after about 45 minutes, the massiveness of the store sends me into panic mode. I’m usually pushing a cart with kids in it and I just want to start pushing over every little old lady who hogs the isle or cell phone talker who stops in front of me, right in the middle of the isle, for no apparent reason.

    Wal-Mart is however the only store where I got in a verbal spat with someone. How dare I have the audacity to move his cart to the SIDE of the isle so everyone else could get through.

  23. Robobot says:

    I don’t think I have seen a single Wal-Mart in this area. There is a Target within easy walking distance- With a bus stop out front, a mall attached, and a Metro station across the street- and it’s as cheap as it is convenient. It’s great.

    Were my Target a Wal-Mart I would still probably shop there for the sake of convenience and saving cash, but less often and for essentials only.

  24. Outrun1986 says:

    It was ironic as I went to target last night and they still had a half of a department full of halloween stuff, even at 75% off this stuff just isn’t selling. They had a full rack of costumes of all sizes and in previous years most of the stuff was gone by the time it hit 75% off. There would be only a few costumes by the time it hit 75% off. I guess people are finally realizing they don’t need all that holiday crap they were buying before.

  25. Wubbytoes says:

    My wife and I frequently go to Target to check out their clearance. We have found some pretty great deals there when we wait long enough for something to get really cheap. That clearance at Walmart though is awful. 10% off is not clearance.

  26. mikey07840 says:

    I like my local Target and I like my local WalMart. I’m lucky I guess.

  27. abbinormal says:

    I prefer Target, and get all my prescriptions filled there. Last week a pharmacist spent 30 mins working with me to get a prescription covered by my insurance. Great service and fast for refills.

    I wish my local Target had grocery, because the grocery is what brings me back to WalMart again and again.

  28. craftykate says:

    I have never spent money at a Walmart and never plan on it. Times are tight for us right now but like mackjaz said earlier – there’s a price to pay for spending money there. I vote with my dollars and choose not to support Walmart.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Walmart Kicks ass. On the issue of Walmart being evil. I guess since not that many people have much money, they tend to follow the low, low prices. If there is a demand for those low prices, Walmart has to get products for the cheap and that means sacrificing on quality. If you want quality, then you’ll be expected to pay a little more. But then again there’s the mall. And guess what they have? Chinese products at high, high prices. And if you guys who are so concerned about Walmart employees…If they get paid more, then it will have to raise it’s low prices. Oh and guess what the consumer (you and me) gets ticked off when prices go up! Prove me wrong?

    • johnnya2 says:

      @EvanClytias: I prove you wrong everyday by not shopping at a Wal mart., I have never spent a dollar in one. Wal Mart is the largest employer who has driven down wages. I hope you like making less money, because Wal Mart has forced everybody to work for less. Those so-called low price actually mean your pay will not go up accordingly. Only 10 per cent of the entire growth during the “good” economy of Bush went to the bottom 90 per cent of wage earners, while 75per cent went to the top 1 per cent.

  30. bluedragonfly says:

    Personally, I prefer Target any day over the Walmarts in my area. Target is always cleaner, brighter, has what I want, and if the lines at the check-out are long they almost always open more registers at least temporarily to get everyone through. The quality on certain things also seems far better at Target than Walmart to me as well (but that could be subjective in part to my own perceptions and opinions).

    There was a price comparison of 20 identical items bought at Target and Walmart a guy did a few years ago (a google search will turn it up). The price difference? He saved a whopping $4.98 at Walmart. I’ve often found that while some things I tend to buy may be cheaper at Walmart, there are other products that are the same price or even more expensive than at other stores. I have a Target, Kroger Marketplace, Trader Joe’s and soon an Aldi all within a 10-15 minute drive versus a 20-30 minute drive to the nearest Walmart. If I know any one of those places has what I need, it’s worth it to me in terms of my time alone to just go to one of those stores instead of driving out to the Walmart (the traffic out that way is a nightmare more often than not as well) let alone any money I might save on someting that’s $1.88 instead of $1.99.

  31. newfenoix says:

    I am not fond of Wal Mart. Now, with that being said, I do 90% of my “buying” at Wal Mart. I said “buying” because if I want to browse and “shop”, I go to the Parks Mall about three miles from the house. Wal Mart is one mile. I don’t go to stores to walk around staring at things. I go to get what I need or want and leave. Also, my wife is a Wal Mart employee and that means that we get a 10% discount on our purchases.

    Now, as to quality, lets get real. Wal Mart sells the same products as Super Target and they are cheaper. Most of my clothes come from J.C. Penny, but socks and other items like that come from Wal Mart. I get small electronics from Wal Mart. Major ones I get at Fry’s. Appliances I get at Lowe’s.

    You can bitch and moan all you want about Wal Mart, but they have an idea that works. And until someone else comes along that can BEAT their prices, they will continue to have my business.

  32. CumaeanSibyl says:

    I shop at Target about once every six months. I’ve never spent a dime at WalMart.

    Living in Michigan, I’m fortunate enough to have Meijer. :)

  33. HogwartsAlum says:

    I shop at WalMart because the only Target we have is clear across town. I would go there if they were on the north side, where I live. The only time I can go to Target is when I’m on the south side for something else. Otherwise, it’s just too much time and too much gas.

    They just remodeled the WalMart that is five blocks from me and made it into a Supercenter. Ironically, the store is bigger, but they have less stuff. WTF!?!?!

    There is a KMart right across the street from the WalMart. I wish, wish, WISH it would die and a Super Target would move into that space. I predict that since the new WalMart has less stuff, the split would be about even. Right now the KMart hardly ever has any cars in the lot. I hate them and almost never shop there.

  34. Anonymous says:

    I am currently a college student, so Walmart is one of my best friends. Although Walmart has cheaper prices I will always go to Target for anything soft, like sheets or towels. Although Walmart’s soft goods are ok Target’s stock is far better. I always go to Walmart for food and everything else.