The 31 best and worst retailers to hit up during the apocalypse

Walmart Black FridayGunnar Rathbun/AP Images

  • Where can you turn in the event of an apocalypse?
  • Well, when it comes to different national retailers, some chains are more useful than others in case of an emergency.
  • Costco, Sam's Club, and BJ's all sell supplies that could potentially be crucial, while you're better off skipping over other shops and restaurants.

We've all heard of the retail apocalypse. But which retailer should you turn to in the event of an actual apocalypse?

Business Insider spoke to John Ramey, the founder and editor of The Prepared, a site that teaches people how to get ready for potential emergencies. We ran a few popular chain stores by Ramey to get his insight into which would provide the most helpful supplies or the best setting to ride out doomsday.

But according to him, the idea of sheltering in a retail setting "doesn't map with the reality of how things go in a disaster."

"You wouldn't want to set up shop in any of those stores," he told Business Insider. "They're easy targets and too many other panicked people will be thinking the same thing."

Read more: 15 things you can buy from Costco, Amazon, Sam's Club, and BJ's to be ready for when the apocalypse hits

Basically, you're better off sticking around at home. But if you find yourself trapped at the mall or forced to venture out into the post-apocalyptic world to gather supplies, some outlets could be more useful than others.

"If you have to, go to the bigger box stores with a wider variety of products ranging from non-perishable food to medicine, clothing, tools, and shelter," Ramey said. "Costco and Sam's Club are much better choices than Trader Joe's."

He added that most Americans "only have a few days worth of food and liquids" in their own homes.

"So getting food and water will be one of your first priorities when things fall apart - but a lot of other people will be thinking the same thing, so you'll need to move fast before the shelves are empty," he said.

Here's a breakdown of how helpful a number of big-box stores, chain restaurants, and other ubiquitous retailers would prove to be in the event of a widespread emergency:

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Most Costco warehouses are big, largely window-free buildings stocked with bulk-sized provisions. So make sure you have your membership card when disaster strikes.

Most Costco warehouses are big, largely window-free buildings stocked with bulk-sized provisions. So make sure you have your membership card when disaster strikes.

Sam's Club would also make for an ideal place to scavenge after the collapse of civilization, as the chain carries massive, years-long supplies of food.

Sam's Club would also make for an ideal place to scavenge after the collapse of civilization, as the chain carries massive, years-long supplies of food.

Source: Business Insider

And the same goes for the warehouse chain BJ's, which also stocks plenty of crucial supplies and emergency food kits.

And the same goes for the warehouse chain BJ's, which also stocks plenty of crucial supplies and emergency food kits.

Source: Business Insider

If violence reigns in the streets after civilization crumbles, keep in mind that Walmart stocks both food items and, in some states, firearms.

If violence reigns in the streets after civilization crumbles, keep in mind that Walmart stocks both food items and, in some states, firearms.

Source: NPR

Target also boasts a number of survival and navigation supplies in its stores.

Target also boasts a number of survival and navigation supplies in its stores.

Source: Target

Ramey recommended that survivors "hit supermarkets" in the wake of an emergency. At Kroger, you can even cart off first aid kits and freeze-dried options.

Ramey recommended that survivors "hit supermarkets" in the wake of an emergency. At Kroger, you can even cart off first aid kits and freeze-dried options.

Ramey also added that survivors should use grocery expeditions as an opportunity to "grab calorie-dense food" at places like Safeway ...

Ramey also added that survivors should use grocery expeditions as an opportunity to "grab calorie-dense food" at places like Safeway ...

... or Albertsons ...

... or Albertsons ...

... or "non-sugary" drinks at a chain like Publix.

... or "non-sugary" drinks at a chain like Publix.

But before you go to an organic grocer like Whole Foods, remember that organic foods likely spoil faster than foods pumped with preservatives. This might not normally be a big deal, but if you're attempting to build up a post-apocalyptic stash, it's something to keep in mind.

But before you go to an organic grocer like Whole Foods, remember that organic foods likely spoil faster than foods pumped with preservatives. This might not normally be a big deal, but if you're attempting to build up a post-apocalyptic stash, it's something to keep in mind.

Source: Organic Authority

Ramey recommended crossing Trader Joe's off your doomsday shopping list, given that big-box stores sell a far wider range of both food and other pertinent items.

Ramey recommended crossing Trader Joe's off your doomsday shopping list, given that big-box stores sell a far wider range of both food and other pertinent items.

Home Depot might be a good option if you plan on constructing your own shelter ...

Home Depot might be a good option if you plan on constructing your own shelter ...

... and the same goes for Lowe's. Both Lowe's and Home Depot also have established emergency command centers, so if you're dealing with a regional disaster — as opposed to the end of the world — both companies might send out aid.

... and the same goes for Lowe's. Both Lowe's and Home Depot also have established emergency command centers, so if you're dealing with a regional disaster — as opposed to the end of the world — both companies might send out aid.

But in the short term, Ikea might be a better option than Home Depot or Lowe's. Most of the chain's furniture selections might be useless during the apocalypse, but they've got a food court that could sustain you for a short time.

But in the short term, Ikea might be a better option than Home Depot or Lowe's. Most of the chain's furniture selections might be useless during the apocalypse, but they've got a food court that could sustain you for a short time.

According to Ramey, it's not a bad idea to stock up on medicine during a widespread disaster. So a run to Walgreens might not be a terrible idea ...

According to Ramey, it's not a bad idea to stock up on medicine during a widespread disaster. So a run to Walgreens might not be a terrible idea ...

... and, therefore, the same could be said for CVS ...

... and, therefore, the same could be said for CVS ...

... or even Rite Aid. But Ramey noted that securing more basic needs like water, food, and shelter should typically take precedence.

... or even Rite Aid. But Ramey noted that securing more basic needs like water, food, and shelter should typically take precedence.

Skip a trip to TJ Maxx in the event of Armageddon. What are you going to do with reasonably priced clothing and home products as the world ends?

 Skip a trip to TJ Maxx in the event of Armageddon. What are you going to do with reasonably priced clothing and home products as the world ends?

The same goes for Kohl's ...

The same goes for Kohl's ...

... Nordstrom ...

... Nordstrom ...

... and JCPenney ...

... and JCPenney ...

Not to mention Macy's, unless you're trying to escape zombies by disguising your scent in their perfume department.

Not to mention Macy's, unless you're trying to escape zombies by disguising your scent in their perfume department.

One apparel retailer that Ramey does recommend hitting up is REI. He said that "outdoor gear stores" often carry "calorie-dense food" and "non-sugary drinks" in their hiking and camping sections.

One apparel retailer that Ramey does recommend hitting up is REI. He said that "outdoor gear stores" often carry "calorie-dense food" and "non-sugary drinks" in their hiking and camping sections.

McDonald's might not be a great place to stick around when society collapses, but you can always hit up your local restaurant and steal all their mold-resistant hamburgers.

McDonald's might not be a great place to stick around when society collapses, but you can always hit up your local restaurant and steal all their mold-resistant hamburgers.

Source: IFL Science

Skip a trip to Wendy's on doomsday. Unlike McDonald's Big Macs, Wendy's burgers won't last you too long ...

Skip a trip to Wendy's on doomsday. Unlike McDonald's Big Macs, Wendy's burgers won't last you too long ...

Source: BuzzFeed

... and the same goes for Burger King's offerings.

... and the same goes for Burger King's offerings.

Source: BuzzFeed

Red Lobster probably shouldn't be at the top of your list, unless you plan to swing by and just drown your sorrows with a Lobsterita. Seafood goes bad pretty quickly.

Red Lobster probably shouldn't be at the top of your list, unless you plan to swing by and just drown your sorrows with a Lobsterita. Seafood goes bad pretty quickly.

Chipotle isn't the ideal restaurant to hit up in the last days. So much of the food is kept up at the counter, easy pickings for scavengers.

Chipotle isn't the ideal restaurant to hit up in the last days. So much of the food is kept up at the counter, easy pickings for scavengers.

In the event of a horrific disaster, shopping for office supplies at Staples shouldn't be on your mind.

In the event of a horrific disaster, shopping for office supplies at Staples shouldn't be on your mind.

Snatching up luxuries from Bed Bath and Beyond is a waste of time when it comes to raiding stores on doomsday.

Snatching up luxuries from Bed Bath and Beyond is a waste of time when it comes to raiding stores on doomsday.

Waffles aren't a necessity in a post-apocalyptic world, but Waffle House still offers a good indicator of the severity of the emergency your community is facing. The Federal Emergency Management Agency uses the chain as an unofficial way to track the devastation wrought by storms.

Waffles aren't a necessity in a post-apocalyptic world, but Waffle House still offers a good indicator of the severity of the emergency your community is facing. The Federal Emergency Management Agency uses the chain as an unofficial way to track the devastation wrought by storms.

Source: Business Insider

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