We shopped at Walmart and Pier 1 Imports to see which store is better for home-goods shopping

Pillow wall pier 1Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

  • Pier 1 Imports, once a leading home-decor retailer, has hit turbulent waters. The company announced it would close 57 stores by 2020, after a period of poor sales.
  • Walmart, meanwhile, is making gains in the home-goods sector online.
  • We visited both stores to see which is better for shopping for home goods. Though the prices at Walmart were tough to beat, Pier 1 Imports won us over with its charming layout and merchandise display.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories

Walmart has its hands in practically every retail sector, from grocery to sporting goods.

When it comes to home goods and furniture, Walmart is making strides online. Last year, the company added innovative and user-friendly features to its website to help customers shop for home goods online. It reported a 35% increase in visits to the home-goods section online since then, Digiday reported in May.

Read more: We shopped at Target and the struggling Pier 1 Imports to see which store is better at selling home goods - and there was a clear winner

Pier 1 Imports, on the other hand, has struggled as of late. The company reported a 13.5% drop in comparable sales in the first quarter of the year, following a general pattern of decline for the company that has plans to close 57 stores by its 2020 fiscal year.

We went to both stores to see for ourselves which retailer is better for home-goods shopping. Despite the struggles of Pier 1 Imports, we enjoyed the shopping experience there, from the overall store design to the merchandise.

Our verdict? Walmart might be best for stocking a house, but Pier 1 Imports is where to go to make a home and is therefore our winner this time.

Here's what else we saw:

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We started our journey at Pier 1 Imports on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

We started our journey at Pier 1 Imports on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

Walking into the store was a refreshing experience. The warm lighting worked well with the light wood display shelves to create a natural, rustic atmosphere.

Walking into the store was a refreshing experience. The warm lighting worked well with the light wood display shelves to create a natural, rustic atmosphere.

Plus, the store was having its semi-annual sale, so the prices were great.

Plus, the store was having its semi-annual sale, so the prices were great.

We immediately stumbled upon this vast display of candles organized by color.

We immediately stumbled upon this vast display of candles organized by color.

In fact, there was a whole corner of the store devoted to different candles. Again, the prices were hard to beat.

In fact, there was a whole corner of the store devoted to different candles. Again, the prices were hard to beat.

We also found a bunch of lanterns on sale nearby ...

We also found a bunch of lanterns on sale nearby ...

... as well as a section of bath and body products.

... as well as a section of bath and body products.

A lot of the bins and shelves were empty, likely a result of the great deals.

A lot of the bins and shelves were empty, likely a result of the great deals.

In general, the items on display were anything but standard. Each plate and knickknack had its own personality.

In general, the items on display were anything but standard. Each plate and knickknack had its own personality.

There were some home-decor items that seemed to have little utility — but these items were too fun to dislike.

There were some home-decor items that seemed to have little utility — but these items were too fun to dislike.

This Sitting Buddha statue was also endearing. It was originally $149.95 but was going for 50% off.

This Sitting Buddha statue was also endearing. It was originally $149.95 but was going for 50% off.

We found a computer to assist customers in finding items online if they didn't have luck in the store.

We found a computer to assist customers in finding items online if they didn't have luck in the store.

The store was also advertising loyalty programs for customers to earn discounts.

The store was also advertising loyalty programs for customers to earn discounts.

Though there didn't seem to be any specific section for it, we found a bunch of furniture items scattered throughout the store — and many of them were on sale.

Though there didn't seem to be any specific section for it, we found a bunch of furniture items scattered throughout the store — and many of them were on sale.

Some pieces were grouped together to give customers an idea of what the furniture could look like in the same room. We found this tactic effective.

Some pieces were grouped together to give customers an idea of what the furniture could look like in the same room. We found this tactic effective.

Downstairs, we found a massive wall of decorative pillows, which were part of a "buy one, get one 50% off" sale.

Downstairs, we found a massive wall of decorative pillows, which were part of a "buy one, get one 50% off" sale.

There was also a number of different wall clocks to flip through.

There was also a number of different wall clocks to flip through.

The merchandise at Pier 1 Imports could only be described as charming. We enjoyed browsing this wall of knickknacks and baubles.

The merchandise at Pier 1 Imports could only be described as charming. We enjoyed browsing this wall of knickknacks and baubles.

And some items — like these $4 plant balls — were perfect traps for the impulse buyer.

And some items — like these $4 plant balls — were perfect traps for the impulse buyer.

We found some artwork full of bright colors and cheery subjects.

We found some artwork full of bright colors and cheery subjects.

For the most part, the prices were great. However, we did find some items that were a bit more expensive, like these rugs that were still pricey despite being on clearance.

For the most part, the prices were great. However, we did find some items that were a bit more expensive, like these rugs that were still pricey despite being on clearance.

Overall, Pier 1 Imports seemed to adhere to the phrase advertised on the front of the store. This shopping experience was all about personalized comfort and beautification of a home — plus there were some great discounts.

Overall, Pier 1 Imports seemed to adhere to the phrase advertised on the front of the store. This shopping experience was all about personalized comfort and beautification of a home — plus there were some great discounts.

Next, we headed to Secaucus, New Jersey, to check out Walmart.

Next, we headed to Secaucus, New Jersey, to check out Walmart.

Walmart obviously isn't just a home-goods store, so we narrowed our focus for the sake of this comparison. When we entered, we were greeted by endless rows of shopping carts.

Walmart obviously isn't just a home-goods store, so we narrowed our focus for the sake of this comparison. When we entered, we were greeted by endless rows of shopping carts.

It took a while to find the home section in the massive warehouse, but we got there eventually.

It took a while to find the home section in the massive warehouse, but we got there eventually.

Right away, our attention was drawn to the deals. Walmart advertises an "everyday low price," so while there didn't seem to be a specific sale occurring, the prices were extremely low.

Right away, our attention was drawn to the deals. Walmart advertises an "everyday low price," so while there didn't seem to be a specific sale occurring, the prices were extremely low.

All the home-goods necessities seemed to be here. We found a large section of plastic storage and laundry bins ...

All the home-goods necessities seemed to be here. We found a large section of plastic storage and laundry bins ...

... as well as some tin buckets and bowls.

... as well as some tin buckets and bowls.

We also found this small section of patriotic home decor.

We also found this small section of patriotic home decor.

But on the whole, it was immediately clear that the items at Walmart didn't have the same charm as those in Pier 1 Imports.

But on the whole, it was immediately clear that the items at Walmart didn't have the same charm as those in Pier 1 Imports.

Walmart's home section had practically anything a person could need to stock a home ...

Walmart's home section had practically anything a person could need to stock a home ...

... from blenders ...

... from blenders ...

... to desk lamps.

... to desk lamps.

And the prices were some of the lowest we had ever seen for home goods.

And the prices were some of the lowest we had ever seen for home goods.

We were especially impressed with these bamboo torches that were going for $2.50 each.

We were especially impressed with these bamboo torches that were going for $2.50 each.

But for the most part, nothing really caught our eye.

But for the most part, nothing really caught our eye.

Like Pier 1 Imports, Walmart had a similarly huge display of scented candles.

Like Pier 1 Imports, Walmart had a similarly huge display of scented candles.

We found this sub-section of candles with religious images — and they all seemed to be under $2 each.

We found this sub-section of candles with religious images — and they all seemed to be under $2 each.

We also found another wall of pillows here, which was almost comparable to the pillow display at Pier 1 Imports.

We also found another wall of pillows here, which was almost comparable to the pillow display at Pier 1 Imports.

And there was a smaller section of discount pillows not far from that.

And there was a smaller section of discount pillows not far from that.

On the whole, Walmart had huge quantities of just about everything. But the store didn't seem engineered for people with an eye for beauty and interior design.

On the whole, Walmart had huge quantities of just about everything. But the store didn't seem engineered for people with an eye for beauty and interior design.

This odd display was meant to show off a bedspread, but the effect was off-putting.

This odd display was meant to show off a bedspread, but the effect was off-putting.

In the furniture section, it was difficult to find any items on display. Customers had to mostly browse through pictures on boxes to decide what to get, which didn't seem too effective.

In the furniture section, it was difficult to find any items on display. Customers had to mostly browse through pictures on boxes to decide what to get, which didn't seem too effective.

A lot of the furniture boxes came in sets, and it was hard to imagine what some of these items would look like in real life.

A lot of the furniture boxes came in sets, and it was hard to imagine what some of these items would look like in real life.

But again, the prices were hard to beat. This ladder desk was shockingly cheap.

But again, the prices were hard to beat. This ladder desk was shockingly cheap.

Walmart offered a warehouse shopping experience from start to finish.

Walmart offered a warehouse shopping experience from start to finish.

Walmart won in terms of low prices, but it couldn't compete with the charming offerings and environment of Pier 1 Imports. So here's our verdict: Walmart will certainly help you stock a house, but Pier 1 Imports should be your destination for making a home.

Walmart won in terms of low prices, but it couldn't compete with the charming offerings and environment of Pier 1 Imports. So here's our verdict: Walmart will certainly help you stock a house, but Pier 1 Imports should be your destination for making a home.
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