Wal-Mart vs. Target: Which is better?

Posted Mar 28 2008, 05:47 PM by Karen Datko

How does positive-thinking blogger Steve Olson really feel about Wal-Mart? A positive-thinking tip in one of the most popular posts at his site is "Visit Target frequently and stay out of Wal-Mart."

He's not the only blogger to share his opinion on the big-box titans. Several lately have posted comparisons of the two stores.

Steve, of Steve-Olson.com, back in 2006 listed 10 reasons why he prefers Target, including "I've never seen anyone wearing a NASCAR shirt, purple sweat pants, and pink fluffy slippers at Target." Also, the aisles at Wal-Mart are too narrow, the employees are surly and not helpful, and the customers look depressed. (Read his anecdote about shopping for a lunch box at both stores.)

He added: "Wal-Mart's atmosphere is cheap and crass. Target's atmosphere exudes progress and style."

More-recent posts by other bloggers indicate the same dissatisfaction. CyberCJH's Blog relates a happy shopping trip to Tar-zhay -- and an awful one at Wally World. "Walk into the store. Walk back out of the store to get a shopping cart. You'll only find them scattered about in the parking lot. ... Throw away the rotten banana peel and/or McDonald's garbage left in the cart." Later, "Even though there are 30 cash registers, there will only be two open." Wait, while your Lean Cuisine starts to defrost.

Advanced Personal Finance calls Target the "anti-Wal-Mart" and hates Wal-Mart. "I don't know what I hate most -- the customers, the employees, the filthy stores, or the parking lot." One of his readers countered, "It's Target snobs that are willing to pay for the atmosphere (walking around flaunting themselves to all the other snobby Target shoppers) that keep that store in business."

So why do so many people shop at Wally World? Reuters reports the results of a Citigroup Global Markets survey of the latest shopping trends. "An overwhelming 72% of customers surveyed said that Wal-Mart had the lowest prices," the Citi report said. Citi also found that Target's prices are, on average, within 3% of Wal-Mart's.

Is Target really better than Wal-Mart? Not in many important areas, writes Carrie Kirby at our partner blog Wise Bread. She writes that both have successfully opposed unionization, neither pays a livable wage, and both sell products made in factories "with poor human rights records."

Want to shop at a big-box store that takes better care of its employees? It's Costco, she says.


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