The Shoppers Have Spoken: 41% of Americans Buy Their Groceries at This Retailer To Get the Best Deals

Jan 9, 2020 Mountain View / CA/ USA - People shopping at a Walmart store in south San Francisco bay area.
Sundry Photography / Getty Images

When it comes to scoring the best deals on groceries, many Americans are turning to the retail giant Walmart. GOBankingRates surveyed more than 1,000 Americans ages 18 and older from across the country between Aug. 14 and Aug. 16, 2023, and found that 41% of respondents opt for Walmart when stocking up on food essentials if they’re looking for a deal. Interestingly, this preference for Walmart held up across age and gender demographics. 

Here’s a closer look at how Walmart keeps prices low and how you can save more.

How Does Walmart Keep Its Prices So Low?

With the mega retailer’s vast selection of food items and affordable prices, it’s not shocking to see Walmart as the go-to destination for budget-conscious grocery shoppers across the country. Walmart even proudly states on its website that “Every Day Low Price (EDLP) is the cornerstone of our strategy, and our price focus has never been stronger.” But how does the retailer keep its prices so wallet-friendly without sacrificing quality or going out of business?

Lack of Competition

As of 2023, Walmart boasts over 5,000 brick-and-mortar stores in the United States alone, and it’s estimated that 90% of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart store. In other words, no matter where you go in the U.S., chances are high that you’ll be within striking distance of a Walmart location. With such a wide reach across the country, Walmart’s access to a reliable and large customer base allows the retailer to keep costs low without worrying about losing customers to competitors. Plus, with its massive sales volume, Walmart could still be profitable even if the margins are smaller.

Bargaining Power

As the world’s largest retailer, Walmart has bargaining power when it comes to its extensive network of suppliers, allowing it to purchase merchandise in bulk at lower prices than competitors. And by demanding lower wholesale rates from suppliers, Walmart can pass these savings onto its customers.

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Advanced Technology 

By harnessing the power of data analytics, automated ordering systems, robotics and other advanced technology, Walmart has been able to streamline overall efficiency and reduce operating costs. For example, the company recently announced plans to build four new high-tech fulfillment centers in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin and implement automation technology to double the number of customer orders they can fulfill in a day. 

Ways To Save Even More on Groceries at Walmart

According to 2021 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average U.S. household spends $5,259 annually on groceries — or about $438 monthly. Here are a few ways to lower that amount by shopping at Walmart. 

Shop the ‘Rollbacks’ Grocery Category

If you’re looking to save money on your grocery bill, check out Walmart’s ‘Rollbacks’ grocery category. Walmart’s Rollbacks section features items that have been deeply discounted for a limited time, and you can typically find them on the shelves at the end of an aisle. You can also browse the Rollbacks category on its website if you prefer to shop for groceries online.  

Use the Walmart Savings Catcher Tool

The Walmart Savings Catcher Tool, a feature found within the Walmart app, compares the prices of your purchased items with those of local competitors like Best Buy and Target. If it finds a lower price elsewhere, it’ll refund you the difference in the form of a Walmart eGift card. 

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To save on your next grocery trip to Walmart, use the Savings Catcher Tool to scan the receipt for everything you buy. But remember, you only have seven days to upload your Walmart receipt to the app for it to work. 

Shop Walmart’s Special Sales Events

Events like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and other holiday sales often offer deep discounts on a wide range of products, including groceries. If you can plan your Walmart grocery trips around these special sales events, you could score major savings on bulk items, discounted perishables and buy-one-get-one-free offers that can drastically reduce your grocery bill. To stay in the loop with Walmart’s big sales, download the Walmart app or register for the Walmart newsletter when you sign up for an account on its website. 

Use Walmart’s Credit Card

Walmart’s credit card gives you 5% cash back on online purchases, including groceries for pickup, 2% back on purchases in Walmart stores and fuel stations, and 1% back on purchases everywhere else that Mastercard is accepted. These savings could add up over time if you frequently buy groceries online. However, if you’re not in a position to pay off the balance in full every month, it’s best to avoid signing up for the credit card since you could incur hefty interest charges on late payments that will cancel out any potential savings. 

What To Buy at Walmart for the Biggest Savings on Groceries?

You generally can’t beat Walmart’s prices on staple food items like the following:

  • Pantry basics like grains, rice, beans and pasta
  • Canned goods
  • Frozen fruits and veggies
  • Dairy items like milk, eggs and cheese
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Don’t just take our word for it, though. The AARP conducted an experiment in Long Island, New York, sending shoppers to Walmart, Aldi and Stop & Shop to purchase 30 staple grocery items, including the ones above. The result? Walmart came out on top, with shoppers spending an average of $88.37, which was $2.54 less than those who shopped at Aldi and $26.12 less than those who went to Stop & Shop.

In terms of what not to buy at Walmart, Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst at DealNews.com, advises to stay clear of the Great Value branded food items. While it may be tempting to opt for the cheaper store brand, Ramhold warns that the quality may be lackluster. “If you’re looking to save money at Walmart, it’s best to shop other store brand items and use the savings to splurge on better quality brands,” she said. You may also want to skip out on fancy artisan bread, wine and liquor, fresh produce and high-end meat cuts at Walmart since you can typically find better deals at a local farmer’s market or even Whole Foods. 

Methodology: GOBankingRates surveyed 1,091 Americans aged 18 and older from across the country between August 14 and August 16, 2023, asking twenty different questions: (1) Have you had trouble paying your utility (gas, electric, heat, internet, etc.) bills in the last 6-12 months?; (2) Which of the following bills/expenses has been the hardest to keep up with over the past year?; (3) Have you bought a car/truck in the last 6-12 months?; (4) Have you ever been on food stamps?; (5) Have you or would you use artificial intelligence (AI) to earn a passive income?; (6) Where do you shop for the best deals on groceries?; (7) What is your current annual income?; (8) How much were you able to contribute to your savings this year?; (9) How much have your savings/investments decreased over the past year?; (10) Next year’s (2024) Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) will be 3% instead of the 8.7% it saw in 2023. Will this affect you?; (11) What assets do you have in your retirement portfolio? (select all that apply); (12) How much money do you currently have saved for retirement?; (13) How much personal savings do you currently have?; (14) What’s the first step you would take if you were starting a small business?; (15) If given the choice between your current job and starting your own business, which would you choose?; (16) If you have any plans to start a small business, what is the timeline?; (17) How much do you currently spend on rent?; (18) How much do you currently pay monthly on your mortgage?; (19) How much has your housing (rent, mortgage, etc.) gone up over the past year?; and (20) How long do you believe it will take you to save, in order to buy a house?. GOBankingRates used PureSpectrum’s survey platform to conduct the poll.

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