Always Double Check: Stores And Their Websites Still Sell Things At Wildly Different Prices



To we consumers, it feels like a store’s physical locations and their website are, y’know, all still part of the same store, and should be treated as such. But as we’ve found over and over, a chain’s retail storefronts and their web presence can be two very different beasts, with two different sets of inventory — and at two different sets of prices.

Over at consumer-focused website Consumer World, they’ve been doing some fall shopping and they’ve confirmed that some things never change. Price discrepancies between brick-and-mortar retailers and their online personas can be huge — and somewhat inexplicable.

Discrepancies are also widespread among retailers, and among product types. For example, Consumer World found:

  • A desktop computer at Staples, advertised for $429.99 online but selling for $600 in-store
  • A digital camera at Walmart, running $99 online and $139 in-store
  • Laundry detergent pods at Target, selling for $17.99 online or $19.49 in-store
  • A set of pots and pans at Sears, advertised at $79.88 online but selling for $130 in-store

But it’s not as simple as “the website is always cheaper than the store.” Consumer World also found items running the other way:

  • A sound bar (speaker system) at Sears for $200 in-store, but $300 online
  • A clearance barbecue at Kmart for $27 in-store or $107.99 online

The moral of the story? As always: shop around. Prices can be all over the map, and it’s unwise to make any assumptions about whether something is cheaper in the store or online.

Happily, in 2014 it can be easy to check. Got a smartphone? Pull it out, load up the retailer’s website, and double-check what’s cheaper before you head to the registers.

If the web version is a better deal, you may still be able to bring it out of the store with you same-day. Some retailers will price match their own (or competitors’) websites, but plenty of others won’t. Still, consumers have come up with all sorts of clever work-arounds in order to accomplish the same thing, including ordering in-store pickup at the same store you’re already in.

Click vs. Brick: Dramatic Price Differences Found at the Same Chain [Consumer World]