Kantar Retail: Target narrows Walmart’s basket advantage

Boston -- Although Target has narrowed Walmart’s basket advantage, the world’s largest retailer continues to demonstrate its price advantage, according to Kantar Retail’s semi-annual pricing study.

With an overall branded basket 2.4% less expensive than Target’s, Walmart’s overall price gap has still remained within a few percentage points of Target’s, although its lead has narrowed since the last iteration of the study. Importantly, Target’s edible basket was within cents of Walmart’s.

“Though bolstered by TPCs, Target’s ability to match Walmart’s pricing in a department where Walmart has focused its price leadership efforts is most impressive,” said Robin Sherk, director of retail insights for Kantar Retail and leading contributor to the study.

The tenth iteration of the semi-annual mass channel pricing study determines which retailer’s basket of grocery and consumable items offers shoppers the lowest price. Kantar Retail revisited the same co-located Walmart and Target stores in Northeastern United States in June 2013 to re-assess a previously established basket of national brand items including edible grocery, non-edible grocery, and health & beauty aids (HBA) items. Only identical SKUs from both retailers were assessed.

“The two retailers continue to strategically diverge in how they reach relative basket comparability, with Walmart very much focused on building a strong value proposition through EDLP,” said Sherk. “In contrast, Target selectively relies on temporary discounts to narrow the gap, and then offers guests ways to save even more through loyalty programs such as its REDcard,” she adds.

Highlights of the study include:

  • Driven by non-edible grocery, Walmart’s overall branded basket was 2.4% less expensive than Target’s, with only Target’s HBA sub-basket leading Walmart’s in price.
  • Walmart’s edible grocery basket was only six cents cheaper than Target’s, practically eliminating its 14.1% lead in January 2013. Target achieved this near comparability through four temporary price cuts (TPCs).
  • On an individual item basis, Target’s basket narrowed the spread recorded in January 2013. Only 19% of the items in the two retailers’ baskets were more than 10% more expensive at Target this iteration.
  • Target narrowed prices primarily through TPCs. Walmart maintained its lead through everyday low prices (EDLP), with its basket recording only one Rollback. Target increased its use of TPCs to a total of 10, an increase from seven in January 2013.
  • With 5% Rewards, Target’s overall basket would have been 2.7% less expensive than Walmart’s. Although Target continues to offer a very competitive basket price to its REDcard holders, the non-edible grocery sub-basket this iteration would still be 3.5% more expensive at Target.