Walmart doesn’t hit the Target

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People from across the country are faced with a choice: “Expect more, pay less” or “Save money. Live better.” For many college students, the decision may be crucial.

Walmart has been the number one discount retailer in the United States for years. Target cannot seem to step out of its competitor’s shadow.

Walmart makes about $406 billion in annual revenues while Target makes about $65 billion. The winner is clear.

Lately, however, Target has been winning in the growth game. From 2003 to 2007, Target’s annual same-store sales growth averaged 4.6 percent while Walmart’s averaged 2.9 percent. During that same period, Target’s annual profit growth averaged 16 percent while Walmart’s averaged 10.3 percent.

Walmart has always advertised that they consistently offer the lowest prices. However, their recent price match policy demonstrates a possible tremor in their beliefs.

Customer Growth Partners, a retail consulting firm, recently conducted research on this matter. They compared Target and Walmart’s prices on 35 brand-name items across three categories in these stores.

This study was done in stores located in Indiana, New York and North Carolina. Based on the results, Target beat Walmart by about two dollars.

Although this study and similar research do not completely prove that one store is less expensive than the other, the evidence is clear: Walmart may offer low prices but they are definitely not always the lowest.

A major advantage Walmart has over Target is their wide variety of groceries. Walmart’s food selection, at both its normal retail stores and its Super Walmart branches, has made it more appealing and convenient as a one-stop-shop.

In previous years, Target has stocked most of its stores with clothing, shoes and accessories. Recently they have taken leaps and bounds to expand their grocery department to make itself more competitive and appealing to shoppers. For example, Target expanded its Archer Farms brand in 2006 to include affordable organic food products.

In recent years, Super Targets have been placed all throughout the nation. There are now 1,683 Target stores in 48 states, including 239 Super Target Stores.

Super Target stores expand beyond fashion and home decor, offering a full grocery line including a bakery, deli, meat and produce selections.

Target has also made itself more appealing by including 1,519 pharmacies, 325 optical centers, 186 portrait studios, 1,165 one-hour photo labs and 28 health clinics within its stores.

One of the main advantages Target has over Walmart is the ambiance it has established. Target is viewed as a n affordable yet chic place to shop. With designer clothes, accessories and home decor, Target tends to draw a crowd looking for just that look, specifically those of the college age.

“Target has products that are of higher quality and a more sophisticated store atmosphere. In my opinion, the clothing, food and cosmetics, my most frequented departments, are nicer and have more of a variety that Walmart can’t offer,” sophomore Sara Arjona said.

Arjona added, “Nothing really deters me from shopping at Walmart. I won’t drive out of my way to go to a Target if there is a Walmart that is closer unless I need something specific, but if they were side by side, then I would pick Target.”

The trend among college students appears to be the same. Some have more of a dislike for Walmart stores than others; however, a preference for Target is prevalent.

“The atmosphere in Target is a lot nicer. The store, as a whole, is much more inviting. Everything I need can be found in Target and the quality is always nice at a fair price,” senior Katy Robinson said. “When I have gone to Walmart in the past, the workers have been extremely unfriendly and unhelpful.”

Although Walmart remains the winner of the financial race, Target’s new innovations and chic appeal make it a competitor worth fighting.

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