14 things you should buy at Target - and 14 more you should avoid at all costs

target employee 7Jeff Chiu, File/AP Images

  • Some products at Target can be great deals, while others you'd be better off purchasing at other stores.
  • We asked retail experts and die-hard Target shoppers to list the best and worst items to buy at Target.

Target holds a place in many shoppers' hearts for its affordability, convenience, and stylish products.

But with so many items under one roof, it can be hard to tell which items are saving you money and which ones you'd be better off buying somewhere else.

We asked retail experts and die-hard Target shoppers to weigh in on the best and worst buys at Target. We compiled their answers, along with information from Consumer Reports, below.

Read on to see 14 items you should buy and 14 more you should skip at Target:

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Buy: Project 62 candles

Buy: Project 62 candles

Candles can warm up a space with sweet scents and soft light, and there’s no shortage of options at Target, with pillar candles, jar candles, flameless candles, and seasonal candles of all shapes, sizes, and scents available.

They're a favorite buy for Jen Coleman and Laura Wiertzema, founders of @targetdoesitagain, a popular fan account that highlights Target products that catch their eye.

"So many good scents at a fraction of the cost of other stores," Coleman and Wiertzema told Business Insider.

Skip: TVs and electronics

Skip: TVs and electronics

Except on Black Friday or during the month of November in general, you're better off looking elsewhere for a TV, according to shopping site Ben's Bargains.

This also goes for most other electronics at Target, like cameras, headphones, and printers.

"It's very rare to see discounts on electronics unless an item is being clearanced out in favor of a replacement model," Ben's Bargains managing editor Kristin Cook told Business Insider.

Buy: Items from designer collaborations

Buy: Items from designer collaborations

Target collaborates with designers on products from wedge sandals to desk lamps, and they're some of the most sought-after items in its stores.

Dianna Baros, founder of budget fashion blog The Budget Babe, told Business Insider she's a fan of the Project 62 + Leanne Ford Lighting Collection and has already purchased a few pieces. She described the line as "modern and mid-century decor you won't find anywhere else at Target's prices."

Skip: Market Pantry coffee

Skip: Market Pantry coffee

Target brand Market Pantry Classic Roast didn't impress the folks at Consumer Reports and neared the bottom of their ranking of blended coffees.

"It lacks complexity and leaves behind a bitter taste," the report said.

Buy: Intimates by Auden

Buy: Intimates by Auden

Auden, one of three new Target-exclusive women's wear brands, is an intimates brand advertised as having a "fit for you in every way," and it offers a large size range: 32AA to 46G.

"We love the underwear and bra line by Auden. Everything is under $22 and they have all sizes," Coleman and Wiertzema told Business Insider.

Skip: Up&Up trash bags

Skip: Up&Up trash bags

Private-label brands can be a good deal when they offer a product with similar quality to a name-brand competitor, but this doesn't seem to be the case with Target's trash bag brand.

"The small savings that Target's Up&Up generic brand provides is not worth it when your trash ends up on the kitchen floor," Kyle James of online deal-finding website Rather-Be-Shopping.com told GOBankingRates.

Buy: Doormats

Buy: Doormats

With eye-catching designs and a price that's just right for an impulse buy, Target's doormats are a solid pick.

"Target has the cutest doormats for $12.99," Coleman and Wiertzema said. "Always a fun, festive assortment to choose from."

Skip: Craft and party supplies

Skip: Craft and party supplies

Also on the Ben's Bargains list of worst buys were Target's craft and party supplies. Quality isn't the issue here, but with specialty craft stores like Jo-Ann Fabric and Michael's regularly offering larger discounts of 40% or 50% off, there's no competition.

Buy: Smartly citrus-scented all-purpose cleaner

Buy: Smartly citrus-scented all-purpose cleaner

Within the massive category of household essentials at Target are cleaning supplies, which include cleaning wipes, all-purpose cleaners, and cleaning tools.

Christy Palmer, founder of All Things Target, a blog highlighting clearance deals, coupons, and notable Target finds, recommended this all-purpose cleaner from the Smartly private label.

"This cleaner has a sweet, tropical aroma and it works great," Palmer told Business Insider. "It comes in a large 32-ounce spray bottle that costs only $1.59, so it's a great value too."

Skip: Fresh produce

Skip: Fresh produce

Sure, Target's got your back for packaged snacks, but when it comes to fresh produce, you're better off at a traditional grocery store or farmer's market.

Target scored poorly on a recent Consumer Reports survey of customers' grocery store preferences, scoring poorly in terms of produce quality, quantity, and variety.

"I prefer to buy my fresh produce at a grocery store that offers local produce or even at a local produce stand," Palmer told Business Insider. "The selection at my store isn't big enough to do all of my produce shopping, so I do it elsewhere."

Buy: Smartly unscented facial cleansing wipes

Buy: Smartly unscented facial cleansing wipes

Face wipes are convenient for removing makeup on the go, but they can get pricey, with brand names like Neutrogena selling 25 face wipes for $6.29 and Simple selling 25-packs for $4.49.

Target's house brand Smartly, on the other hand, sells a 30-pack for $0.99.

Skip: Baby formula

Skip: Baby formula

Baby formula is one product where it really pays to buy in bulk, so you'd be better off buying your formula at a store like Costco to save you some serious cash, The Cheat Sheet pointed out.

Buy: Archer Farms trail mix

Buy: Archer Farms trail mix

Target's line of "budget-friendly" foods offers a wide range of items, many of which are cheaper than similar items from name brands.

"Archer Farms makes an amazing variety of trail mix and they are super tasty too," Palmer said.

She highlighted her personal favorite, the Peanut Butter Monster trail mix, a sweet and salty mix of peanuts, peanut butter chips, raisins, peanut butter M&M's, and peanut butter-coated pretzel balls.

Skip: Phone accessories

Skip: Phone accessories

While it may be tempting to buy a phone case or charging cable at Target — you're there anyway, right? — Ben's Bargains pointed out that mobile accessories rarely go on sale, and you can often find them for a fraction of the price on sites like Amazon.

Buy: Cat & Jack children's clothing

Buy: Cat & Jack children's clothing

This children's clothing line is a Target exclusive.

"All the clothing and accessories from Cat & Jack are super cute and they come with an amazing one-year guarantee," Palmer said. "If anything doesn't hold up, you can return it up to one year later with your original receipt."

Skip: Books

Skip: Books

Like phone accessories, you can definitely pick up a book or two at Target, but you're probably not getting the best deal. For cheaper prices, The Cheat Sheet recommended heading over to Amazon. Or you could support a local bookstore, of course.

Buy: Items from the Hearth & Hand with Magnolia collection

Buy: Items from the Hearth & Hand with Magnolia collection

This homeware collection is another Target exclusive, created in collaboration with HGTV's "Fixer Upper" stars Chip and Joanna Gaines.

Palmer said the collection "will give you the Magnolia Homes look for less."

Baros also has her eye on the brand: "The farmhouse trend is so big and this line taps into that, but with pieces for the home that are truly timeless," she said.

Skip: Gift cards

Skip: Gift cards

Gift cards can be a great last-minute gift, but you're not getting any discounts from buying them at Target, Ben's Bargains said.

Buy: Threshold sheets

Buy: Threshold sheets

A Target-exclusive brand described as "casual and classic," Threshold has everything from faux plants to pillows.

"Target's Threshold sheets are a great quality with a low price tag," Palmer said. "They come in a large variety of colors and patterns. Even better, Target often has their bedding on sale so you can save even more on their already great prices."

Baros also recommended the Threshold collection.

"Think Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware for less," she said.

Skip: Up&Up full sheet paper towels

Skip: Up&Up full sheet paper towels

Yet another product that'll end up costing you more if you go generic, Target's Up&Up doesn't perform as well as name brand Bounty, at least one tester has said.

"The Target brand is cheaper, (but) the Bounty brand is more durable and requires the use of less sheets at a time," Jon Lal of BeFrugal told GOBankingRates.

Buy: SUGARFIX by BaubleBar jewelry

Buy: SUGARFIX by BaubleBar jewelry

A collaboration between Target and online jewelry shop BaubleBar, this collection is sold exclusively at Target, with new items debuting each month.

"You can buy earrings, necklaces, and bracelets made by the popular brand at a price that won't put a strain on your budget," Palmer told Business Insider. "They offer lots of fun statement pieces in so many different styles."

Skip: Batteries

Skip: Batteries

You can find fairly inexpensive battery packs at Target, but they're even cheaper at the dollar store or if you buy in bulk, The Cheat Sheet noted.

Buy: Discounted holiday items

Buy: Discounted holiday items

Is there anything sweeter than stocking up on discounted chocolate post-Valentine's Day?When buying seasonal items, Palmer said she likes to wait until after the holiday for the best deals.

"Target marks down their holiday items as low as 90% off," Palmer said. "Holiday items are 50% off the day after a holiday, a few days later they get marked down to 70% off, and then usually a week or so later they are 90% off."

Skip: Market Pantry salad dressing

Skip: Market Pantry salad dressing

While the condiments impressed the "expert taste testers" at Consumer Reports, the salad dressings they tried — Caesar, Light Ranch, and Ranch — didn't deliver and were described as "middling at best."

Buy: Method cleaning products

Buy: Method cleaning products

The full lineup of this eco-friendly, non-toxic cleaning brand is available at Target, including hand soap, all-purpose cleaner, and foaming bathroom cleaner.

Baros told Business Insider she buys a lot of cleaning products for the home at Target, including Method dish soap and all-purpose cleaner.

"These are free from harmful chemicals and very budget-friendly too," Baros said.

Skip: Furniture

Skip: Furniture

Target can be a great place to find stylish, affordable home goods to spruce up a space, but when it comes to frequently used items that are more prone to wear and tear, like couches, quality trumps aesthetic.

"Cheap furniture from Walmart and Target is just that — it works well for college students, but in the long run consumers will pay more to replace these items," Kendal Perez of Coupon Sherpa told GOBankingRates.

As an alternative, Perez recommended shopping at antique stores, thrift shops, and discount retailers like HomeGoods and Marshalls for still affordable but more quality finds.

Buy: Dollar Spot items

Buy: Dollar Spot items

Also known as the Bullseye's Playground, many an impulse purchase has been made in this seasonally changing section stocked with items that cost just a couple bucks — though a handful go for more than $20.

"The Target Dollar Spot is my weakness, but honestly I never have to worry about going over budget in this area," Baros said. "I find unique toys and crafts for the kids, gifts for friends, and little home accents and even fashion pieces like scarves and hats for myself."

Skip: Shoes

Skip: Shoes

Sure, they're cute and affordable, as fast fashion often is, but if you're looking for something that will last you through a season and beyond, The Cheat Sheet recommended checking out retailers like DSW or department stores like Macy's. These outlets will often have sales on name-brand shoes.

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