We went shopping at Walmart and Target to see which was better for groceries, and there was a clear winner

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walmart 2947Business Insider/Jessica TylerWalmart had a ton of fresh produce.

  • Walmart and Target both dedicate a large section of their stores to selling groceries.
  • Both stores have been adding features like same-day grocery delivery and free shipping on orders over $35.
  • Walmart reported same-store sales were up 4.5% in the most recent quarter, and Target reported same-store sales were up 6.5% in the most recent quarter.
  • We went grocery shopping at each of the stores and found that even though the online selections were comparable, there was a clear winner between the two.

Walmart and Target have a lot of overlap in what they sell, and one of the biggest departments they compete in is grocery.

The two stores have both been working on improving their e-commerce strategies, especially when it comes to grocery. Walmart offers free two-day shipping on orders over $35, free same-day store pickup on certain orders, and same-day delivery in New York City through Jet.com, which it acquired in 2016. Similarly, Target offers free two-day shipping on orders over $35 and in-store pickup, and it announced earlier this year that it plans to offer same-day delivery of groceries from half of its 1,800 stores using Shipt, a delivery startup it acquired in December.

In Walmart's earnings call in August, the retail giant reported second-quarter same-store sales were up 4.5%. It announced earlier this year that it would be remodeling 500 stores and building 20 new locations.

Likewise, in an earnings call at the end of August, Target reported same-store sales were up 6.5% in the second quarter. Target is working towards improving its physical outposts, and it plans on expanding its store fleet while many brick-and-mortar stores are closing.

Even though the stores are both performing well financially, we found one was preferable when it came to the grocery-shopping experience:

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First, we went to a Walmart Supercenter store in Secaucus, New Jersey.

First, we went to a Walmart Supercenter store in Secaucus, New Jersey.

At the front of the department was a bakery with fresh loaves of bread, most of which cost under $2 for the generic store brand.

At the front of the department was a bakery with fresh loaves of bread, most of which cost under $2 for the generic store brand.

There were also cupcakes, doughnuts, and snack mixes for under $3 a package for the store brand.

There were also cupcakes, doughnuts, and snack mixes for under $3 a package for the store brand.

A fresh deli counter offered meals and catering.

A fresh deli counter offered meals and catering.

There was a ton of fresh produce, and most fruits and vegetables were under $2 each. Everything looked ripe and ready to be eaten.

There was a ton of fresh produce, and most fruits and vegetables were under $2 each. Everything looked ripe and ready to be eaten.

There was an entire aisle of different salads ...

There was an entire aisle of different salads ...

... and a ton of frozen meals to choose from. Most shelves were well-stocked.

... and a ton of frozen meals to choose from. Most shelves were well-stocked.

There was an entire aisle of ice cream. A pint from brands like Ben & Jerry's or Häagen-Dazs cost around $3.50 on average.

There was an entire aisle of ice cream. A pint from brands like Ben & Jerry's or Häagen-Dazs cost around $3.50 on average.

Everything at Walmart was very clearly labeled and organized.

Everything at Walmart was very clearly labeled and organized.

The aisles were all very wide, which made them easy to shop in, especially if it were to get crowded.

The aisles were all very wide, which made them easy to shop in, especially if it were to get crowded.

Walmart had a huge variety of different brands to offer for every type of product.

Walmart had a huge variety of different brands to offer for every type of product.

There were entire aisles for chips, candy, and other snacks, but it definitely seemed to be lacking healthy options outside of fresh food.

There were entire aisles for chips, candy, and other snacks, but it definitely seemed to be lacking healthy options outside of fresh food.

Some areas of the store were messier than others ...

Some areas of the store were messier than others ...

... but for the most part, everything was kept pretty tidy.

... but for the most part, everything was kept pretty tidy.

There were also a few aisles that had sodas and juices from brands like Pepsi for under $4 ...

There were also a few aisles that had sodas and juices from brands like Pepsi for under $4 ...

... along with a big refrigerated section with milk and other dairy products.

... along with a big refrigerated section with milk and other dairy products.

Near the exit were a ton of self-checkout counters, and the line was moving quickly.

Near the exit were a ton of self-checkout counters, and the line was moving quickly.

All in all, I was impressed by how much fresh food Walmart had. The wide aisles and clear organization made it an easy shopping experience, and everything was inexpensive. The one thing it seemed to be missing was healthier food options.

All in all, I was impressed by how much fresh food Walmart had. The wide aisles and clear organization made it an easy shopping experience, and everything was inexpensive. The one thing it seemed to be missing was healthier food options.

Next, we went to a Target store in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Next, we went to a Target store in Jersey City, New Jersey.

The grocery department was definitely a lot smaller than at Walmart. Target has historically lagged behind its competitors when it comes to grocery prices and freshness.

The grocery department was definitely a lot smaller than at Walmart. Target has historically lagged behind its competitors when it comes to grocery prices and freshness.

Source: Business Insider

Like at Walmart, there was a section with breads and baked goods, but there was less to choose from, and the products were slightly more expensive.

Like at Walmart, there was a section with breads and baked goods, but there was less to choose from, and the products were slightly more expensive.

There was produce, but there wasn't nearly as big of a selection, and it didn't seem as fresh. Most fruits and vegetables were under $4 each. While at Walmart the prices were displayed on huge signs, Target’s were not nearly as obvious. Sometimes it was hard to find a price on specific items.

There was produce, but there wasn't nearly as big of a selection, and it didn't seem as fresh. Most fruits and vegetables were under $4 each. While at Walmart the prices were displayed on huge signs, Target’s were not nearly as obvious. Sometimes it was hard to find a price on specific items.

Target also had a lot of fresh vegetables and several different types of salads, but it was a much smaller aisle than we found at Walmart. Most fresh foods at Target were $1 or $2 more expensive than at Walmart.

Target also had a lot of fresh vegetables and several different types of salads, but it was a much smaller aisle than we found at Walmart. Most fresh foods at Target were $1 or $2 more expensive than at Walmart.

There were a lot of frozen meals ...

There were a lot of frozen meals ...

... but those were more expensive, too. A pint of ice cream from brands like Ben & Jerry's or Häagen-Dazs cost around $4.80 on average at Target.

... but those were more expensive, too. A pint of ice cream from brands like Ben & Jerry's or Häagen-Dazs cost around $4.80 on average at Target.

There were a lot more empty shelves at Target than at Walmart ...

There were a lot more empty shelves at Target than at Walmart ...

... and products and prices weren't labeled as clearly at Target.

... and products and prices weren't labeled as clearly at Target.

The aisles were a lot more narrow, too.

The aisles were a lot more narrow, too.

Target didn't have as much to choose from as far as snacks like chips and candy ...

Target didn't have as much to choose from as far as snacks like chips and candy ...

... but it had more healthy options, which were clearly labeled with a "nutritious" sticker or a "better for you" sign.

... but it had more healthy options, which were clearly labeled with a "nutritious" sticker or a "better for you" sign.

Like Walmart, there were a lot of self-checkout counters near the exit.

Like Walmart, there were a lot of self-checkout counters near the exit.

While Target did have a lot in store, Walmart definitely had a bigger variety of groceries at what seemed to be lower prices. It lacked healthy snacks, but it had a lot more fresh fruits and vegetables. Even though both stores have similar grocery offerings online, Walmart was the clear winner.

While Target did have a lot in store, Walmart definitely had a bigger variety of groceries at what seemed to be lower prices. It lacked healthy snacks, but it had a lot more fresh fruits and vegetables. Even though both stores have similar grocery offerings online, Walmart was the clear winner.
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