Walmart has only three different store formats across the US: Walmart Discount Store Stores, Walmart Supercenters, and Walmart Neighborhood Markets.
While the Discount Store store model is the original - founder Sam Walton opened the first one in 1962 - there are now two times more Supercenters - which were first developed in 1988 - than there are Discount Store stores, according to Walmart.
The two stores serve different purposes, according to Walmart. Supercenters are in more highly populated areas offering both general merchandise and groceries, while the Discount Store stores tend to be in more rural areas and mostly stick to offering general merchandise.
In terms of a physical footprint, a company representative told Business Insider that Supercenters stand at around 190,000 square feet, while Discount Store stores are closer to 40,000 square feet.
All that extra square footage in the Supercenter we visited allowed for shelves across the store to be stocked with even more variety than at the Discount Store store we went to.
Regardless of size, there are certain things that each store did better than the other - like the outdoor section of the Discount Store store and the food section of the Supercenter.
After walking through both stores, we think the Supercenter is the place to go if you want to get all of your shopping done at once, including groceries, and the Discount Store store is a great option for anyone looking to get in, grab what they need, and get on with their day.
Here's how the two models stack up against one another.
Walmart, Inc. is the largest brick and mortar retailer in the world with stores in 27 countries under a variety of brand names.
In the US, there are three different formats of the brick and mortar Walmart stores which include Walmart Supercenters ...
... Walmart Discount Stores ...
... and Walmart Neighborhood Markets.
We set out to see how the newer supercenter model stacks up to its original discount store counterpart — the first discount store opened in 1962 and the first supercenter opened in 1988.
So we headed to the Walmart Discount Store in Norwalk, Connecticut ...
... and the Walmart Supercenter in Secaucus, New Jersey to see how the two compared.
At first glance, the two stores looked the same. As we walked through the first set of automatic doors in Norwalk we saw a sea of shopping carts to our right ...
... and a few arcade games that seemed a bit out of place next to a key-cutting machine on our left.
In Secaucus, the store had the same double sliding door entryway and there was a similar cluster of carts to our left ...
... and the games and key cutting machine to our right. But the machine and games looked less out of place at the supercenter because there were vending machines filling up the wall as well.
Walking into the discount store, there were a few displays of bulk-stocked goods ...
... a guest services area for anyone who had specific questions or needed to make returns ...
... and a small Dunkin' outpost — the smell of doughnuts was strong and hit us right as we walked through the door before we even got a chance to see where it was coming from.
There was a similar stack of bulk items in the supercenter ...
... but there was also so much more. Shelves of bread, cookies, and cakes were to our left, and there was a sea of fresh produce in front of us.
There were also spring flowers on display — we visited Secaucus in the spring and Norwalk in the winter.
While there was no Dunkin' in the Secaucus store, there was a large McDonald's which included a dining area.
The Secaucus store made an overall better first impression with its more open floor plan and the grocery section. Walmart Supercenter wins this round.
The grocery section in Secaucus was sprawling. There were the bakery and deli sections lining the perimeter ...
... and fresh produce in the center of the floor and also lining a wall behind.
Although, the produce didn't all look to be high quality.
Behind all the produce was a counter with prepared foods, which mostly consisted of chicken and fried appetizers.
Then we rounded the corner and saw all the meat lining the walls ...
... which was opposite aisles and aisles of frozen and refrigerated foods.
The cases held goodies like ice cream and pancakes, but also frozen dinners and lots of chicken nuggets.
When it came to dry goods, the supercenter also had a great selection. From condiments to snacks, noodles to cereal, there was no shortage of food to choose from.
While the discount store we checked out in Norwalk does sell a lot of food, none of it was ready-made like in the New Jersey supercenter. This was a big factor that led us to decide the discount store is probably not meant to be used as a supermarket.
Instead of fresh or ready-made food, all of the food at the discount store was pre-packaged, and most of it lived outside the realm of refrigeration.
Instead of bakery displays, we saw walls and walls of cookies — which the supercenter also had — to fulfill your sugar cravings ...
... and an island dedicated to barrels of utz Cheddar Cheese Balls. The supercenter in Secaucus also had islands of featured products across the store.
When it came to the refrigerated and frozen sections in Norwalk, we saw only two separate refrigerated cases. The case pictured here had a few bags of frozen fish and an array of frozen meals.
Just around the aisle corner were varieties of frozen potatoes ...
... frozen bread, and some frozen dessert like the Monkey Bread, seen here next to boxes of breadsticks and Texas toast.
The Walmart Supercenter was the clear winner when it came to food overall.
At both Walmart stores, it was nearly impossible to ignore the abundance of cereal. Just looking at it all immediately brought us back to our childhood.
There were the colorful sugary classics ...
... and organic versions of more well-known cereal brands. These Cocoa Bunnies and peanut butter, chocolate Cheerios looked like the healthier alternative to Cocoa Puffs and Reese's Puffs.
Both stores also offered family sized boxes of different cereals ...
... as well as options made by Walmart's brand, Great Value. The cereal category was a tie.
The Walmart Discount Store in Norwalk did have an impressive soft drink aisle.
There was certainly a large variety of brands, flavors, and sizes.
But the sheer size of the supercenter's soft drink section earned the larger store another win.
Next to the soft drinks in Secaucus was a refrigerated wall filled with milk, eggs, juice, whipped cream, and other similar products.
Continuing down the sole refrigerated aisle in the discount store — next to the frozen bread — we found yogurt and a few other dairy products, varieties of butter and butter substitutes, creamers, and cartons of already-beaten eggs. There was also milk and shelled eggs both sporting the "Great Value" label.
The supercenter definitely won this category, which we dubbed the "breakfast essentials" round.
Both Walmarts offered a lot more than just food, too. We visited the discount store in March, a little more than a month before Easter. The myriad of egg buckets shown here was just the tip of the festive iceberg.
The Norwalk location had a number of other walls of decorations around the store like the one seen here.
We visited the supercenter in May, just weeks before Memorial Day. While the bakery had plenty of red white and blue themed desserts ...
... the store also had a few walls of decorations. This category was a tie considering the discount store had more decorations, but the supercenter offered themed food.
When it came to home decor, both stores had a lot to offer. There were aisles of furniture, mirrors, room accessories, carpets, and desk chairs.
They also both had plenty of toys and sports equipment on offer.
But the supercenter just seemed to have a larger quantity of everything, especially bikes. So if you're looking to have lots of toy and equipment options to choose from, the supercenter would be your best bet.
After walking around both stores, we thought the discount store had a better clothing section. It had an entire wall of women's jeans on offer, which we didn't see at the supercenter. We also thought the discount store's clothing section was also easier to navigate than the one in the supercenter because the sections were more clearly marked and had a more open floorplan. The smaller store won this category.
While both stores had outdoor furniture for sale, the discount store in Norwalk had an entire outdoor garden section that was built in a greenhouse-type room.
The Secaucus supercenter was selling the furniture in the main store. We thought the Norwalk store's section created a much better shopping experience, so it won this round as well.
Other areas like the newsstands at checkout, heavy promotion of the company's famous "Every Day Low Prices," pharmacy, tech and entertainment, and cleaning supplies were all evenly comparable between the two stores. While the supercenter sometimes had more variety in terms of brands available, discount store shoppers certainly still had plenty of options to choose from.
In terms of the overall shopping experience, we thought the supercenter in Secaucus was more pleasant. The discount store in Norwalk seemed a bit neglected. The shelves gave us more of a warehouse feel, and the things in the entry — like the key machine and games — looked like they were in limbo.
The supercenter we went to looked more polished and thought out — like there was a method to the mega-store madness. So if you have the choice between doing your shopping at a supercenter or a discount store, we think the supercenter is your best bet for a one-stop shopping trip.
That being said, the amount of variety at the supercenter did seem a little excessive. While choices can be good — there's seemingly something for everyone — they can also be overwhelming. Studies have shown too many choices can be "paralyzing" for some people, The New York Times reported.
So for any indecisive shoppers who aren't looking for groceries, we think it's possible to get just about everything you need at the discount store without having to spend time staring at heavily stocked shelves.