CNNMoney made a surprise discovery this week: Target beat Wal-Mart's prices in a recent comparison. The consulting firm Customer Growth Partners compared 35 brand-name items sold at the two discounters, including 22 common grocery items such as milk, cereal and rice, 10 general merchandise items such as clothing and home furnishings and three health and beauty items.
Target's total came to $269.13 and Wal-Mart rang in at $271.07.
This is the first time that Target beat Wal-Mart in the last four years that Customer Growth Partners has conducted the comparison. CNNMoney said that a smaller study by Kantar Retail found similar results. In my last price comparison (30 items) between the two discounters in 2009, Wal-Mart was 4 percent cheaper. Retail analyst Britt Beemer said in 2009 that Wal-Mart was as much as 10 percent cheaper in many markets.
If you're wondering whether Target's 5 percent Redcard discount was factored in to the savings, it was not. When you add the 5 percent discount using Target's Redcard Visa, the price gap widens to 5.7 percent.
The surveys were done in stores in New York, Indiana, North Carolina and Massachusetts. In Kantar's survey, Wal-Mart's prices were lower on light bulbs, trash bags and detergent. Target was cheaper on health and beauty items and especially smoking cessation gum.
I checked another resource, the nonprofit Consumer's Checkbook, which compared prices on a larger number of items in September 2010. In its comparison of 150 items in the Twin Cities, Wal-Mart was 5 percent cheaper than Target. Keep in mind that that was six months ago. According to the CNN report, Target has recently made its supply chain for efficient to bring prices down on frequently-purchased items. Checkbook's next issue will report its supermarket findings in more detail. These findings are considered a "sneak preview," according to Kevin Brasler, managing editor at Checkbbok.
Experience has taught me that many Twin Cities' shoppers are diehard Target or Wal-Mart shoppers but not both. Any readers out there who shop both stores and want to comment about price differences in 2011?
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