Target is an impressive company with nearly 2,000 stores all over the U.S. (and growing), making it the second-largest discount retailer in the U.S.
However, with over 11,000 stores in total, Walmart is the second-largest retailer in the world (surpassed only by, you guessed it, Amazon in 2019).
The competition between these two chains, which cultivate decidedly different brand identities and customer bases, is fierce. So how do they stack up?
It’s time to put them side by side: Walmart Vs Target, the battle of the big box retailers! Keep reading for comparisons on their stores, products, services, prices and much, much more.
Walmart Vs. Target
Walmart Vs Target: Market Share
In the grand scheme of the general retail market, Walmart continues to hold onto the largest share of the market with 15.9 percent.
Target is further down the list, trailing after names like Amazon and Apple, Costco and Kroger, for eighth place, with 2.47 percent of the total retail market.
However, when you change the field to department store market shares, Target comes out on top with 38 percent.
Walmart and Macy’s tie for third at 13 percent each.
Walmart Vs Target: Stores
Walmart calls Bentonville, Arkansas home, settling on the town as HQ after being founded in 1962 by Sam Walton.
Almost a straight shot north 600+ miles in Minneapolis, Minnesota you can find Target’s home base and corporate headquarters.
Both Walmart and Target operate stores in all 50 states in the U.S., but only Walmart has expanded overseas into 27 different countries.
Walmart’s store count numbers well over 11,000 worldwide; Target numbers 1,909 stores based in the U.S.
For two buildings with basically the same shape concept – a giant cube – the companies go in vastly different directions regarding their stores.
Walmart Supercenters, which combines a department store with a grocery store, can reach up to 179,00 square feet – and that’s just the buildings!
Consider the extra space for all the parking and backend deliveries.
Target stores average 130,000 square feet – not a whole lot smaller, but Target is moving to maintain mini-versions of anywhere from 13,000 to 40,000 square feet.
These smaller stores address one major problem for big-box retailers: geography.
It should allow Target to insinuate themselves in areas – like on busy city streets – where a Target Supercenter could never fit.
Layout And Atmosphere
Store layouts will vary, but the essence for both retailers tends to remain the same.
Full-size or supercenter Walmarts and Targets both separate groceries on their own side, and both feature long, relatively tall aisles.
Each department is contained to its ascribed aisles, and they are well-marked, either with large, hanging signs (Walmart) or endcap signs (Target).
Likewise, Target and Walmart label/number their aisles with some combination of letters and numbers.
Walmart gets some flack for the lack of organization and general disarray in which their stores can often be found.
It’s difficult to imagine, even with as many employees as they have one each shift, keeping a “clean house,” so to speak.
So you are more likely to see mixed-up items, messy displays, and random objects lying around at Walmart than versus Target.
Target, if not pristine, has a reputation for a more “bougie” appearance, appealing to the younger and wealthier demographics.
In-Store Restaurants And Retailers
Walmart and Target each have their own partnerships with restaurants and retailers, to offer customers an enhanced experience.
For example, some Walmarts have Subway restaurants within, including a full menu and seating area.
But customers can look forward to options like Taco Bell and Domino’s in the near future.
In response, some Targets now have Starbucks shops near their entrances.
Additionally, Target recently announced that they are partnering with beauty chain Ulta to bring mini-beauty stores-within-a-store to shoppers.
Walmart Vs Target: Products
Walmart and Target carry many of the same types of products, although variety, brand, and selection can vary wildly.
Walmart Supercenters can carry as many as 142,000 different items in one store, while Target obviously carries less (though I couldn’t find the exact number).
Both retailers have multiple departments and many different products. Below is a list of some of the departments both stores maintain:
- Clothing And Accessories
- Beauty And Personal Hygiene
- Sports Gear
- Home Goods
- Household Essentials
- Office Supplies
- Garden And Outdoors
- Pet Supplies
- Toys And Games
- Auto (Walmart’s selection in this area is significantly more extensive)
Let’s break this down further and compare Walmart and Target’s product selection more in-depth.
Exclusive Brands And Private Labels
Walmart’s famous “off-brand” or store brand is Great Value, a huge collection of common food items at some of the lowest prices around.
Some other popular Walmart private and exclusive label brands include:
- Sam’s Choice – “Premium tier” food products
- Marketside – Deli-style foods
- Equate – Pharmacy, health, and beauty items
- Mainstays – Home décor and home goods
- Douglas/SuperTech/Everstart – Car equipment and accessories
- Parent’s Choice – Baby goods
- George/Terra & Sky, Time and Tru, Wonder Nation – Apparel
- Better Homes & Gardens – Home goods inspired by the magazine
- Best Occasions – Party supplies
- Hyper Tough – Power tools and hand tools
- Tasty – Kitchen tools from the Buzzfeed food label sold exclusively by Walmart
Target has a few private-label food brands, including Archer Farms, Balanced, Market Pantry, and the most bountiful label, Good & Gather.
Some of Target’s other private-label brands include:
- up & up – Health, hygiene and paper goods label
- A New Day/Ava & Viv/Original Use/Goodfellow & Co./Universal Thread for Target/Wild Fable/Xhilaration – Apparel for the whole family
- Auden/All in Motion – Women’s Intimates (former) and activewear (latter)
- Made By Design – Houseware, luggage and travel staples
- Room Essentials – Most basic and discounted home goods label, perfect for college students and new apartment dwellers
- Opalhouse – Eclectic home goods
- Threhold – Classic home goods
- Embark – Outdoor equipment
- Sonia Kashuk – Beauty/make-up label that Target bought in 2016
Target markets toward the upwardly mobile and higher-income consumers – but does that mean their products are better?
Where food is concerned, I think both are about equal. Certainly, despite Walmart’s steep discount pricing (they have to contend with Aldi, after all), their food is good quality.
I think Target has a slight advantage where items like apparel are concerned.
Walmart has come a long way in terms of stylish offerings. However, their cuts are slightly less tailored – which can be a good thing, when it comes to vanity sizing.
Target’s clothing feels more durable and is cut to a more tailored, precise shape.
If you want choices, go to Walmart. Indeed, if you want to be overwhelmed with choices, Walmart is your store.
If having to differentiate between 34 different kinds of kettle chips sounds like a nightmare, head to Target.
Walmart Vs Target: Prices
You might think, straight off the bat, that Walmart has to be cheaper than Target.
For the most part, you’re right, especially when it comes to some home goods lines and many pieces of apparel.
But a lot of people wonder if doing their grocery shopping at Target, if they’re in the store anyway (or ordering online anyway), is cost-effective.
Michael Timmerman at Clark.com compared prices and found that many items were comparably priced.
In multiple cases, Target was higher by mere pennies.
For example, a 12-pack of Coca-Cola cans differs by one cent, with Walmart the cheaper option.
JIF peanut butter had a larger disparity – of five cents.
While Walmart is cheaper in some cases, if you’re at Target anyway and need to pick up a few groceries, there’s no glaring reason to make another stop elsewhere.
Walmart Vs Target: Services
Walmart outdoes Target in terms of additional store services, however. Here, Walmart is the clear winner.
Below is a list of additional services Walmart stores may offer:
- Banking (commonly through a Woodforest National Bank location in-store)
- Auto (including oil change, tire change and car battery replacement/disposal
Of these, Target only offers pharmacy services.
Walmart Vs Target: Customer Service
Interestingly, Walmart scored higher than Target on overall customer satisfaction and whether or not customers would recommend Walmart to someone else.
This likely translates to a higher customer service ranking for Walmart, too, but anecdotally you wouldn’t think it.
I compared Google reviews for the Target in my city and one of the Walmarts, and the one-star reviews for Walmart all complained of poor customer service.
However, the one-star reviews for my Target focused on things like in-store pick up and lack of product availability.
Walmart Vs Target: Return Policy
Walmart has a very lenient return policy; shoppers have 90 days to return an item, and with a receipt, they will receive their refund via the payment method.
Shoppers without a receipt can receive a refund via store credit. (For a more detailed description of their return policy, visit here.)
Target’s return policy is similar: 90 days with a receipt.
If you don’t have your receipt, Target will still accept the return (and they’ll go looking in their store records for it); you’ll receive store credit instead of cash.
To review Target’s full return policy, check here.
I think Walmart has built up a return culture of “anything goes,” though; I once returned a gallon of opened milk without a receipt, and they gave me cash.
I have to give them a big thumbs up for that!
Walmart Vs. Target: Website, Mobile App And Store Pick-Up
Like the stores themselves, I find the Walmart website to be chaotic.
The site is actually split into two domains: one for whatever local store you choose, and one for Walmart.com, their online store, which is probably meant to compete with Amazon.
In theory, that shouldn’t be too difficult to navigate, but then you have two different carts, which is confusing.
Their app is slightly better, but still, I don’t find it particularly intuitive.
While Target does sell things on their website that are online-only, they are grouped in with all their in-store products and are clearly marked as online exclusives.
I also like Target’s app a lot better and find it more intuitive and user-friendly.
I’m not crazy about Walmart’s store pick-up situation. You have to schedule a time for your pick-up, and if there are no slots available that day, you’re out of luck.
I like how Target does theirs: you place your order and know that it’ll be ready within two hours. Then you can go pick it up whenever it’s convenient for you.
I will say, though, that I have had issues with both retailers when it comes to ordering something that appears to be in stock online but is out of stock in-store.
Walmart Vs Target: Employee Satisfaction
I went to job search giant Indeed to check out employees’ satisfaction ratings from working at Target and Walmart.
While Walmart ranked lower overall – by only one decimal point – and both received their fair share of positive reviews, the atmospheres diverged substantially.
One reviewer called Target’s work environment “catty,” describing it as “high school all over again.”
A reviewer for Walmart outlined how corporate has changed policies to the disadvantage of employees.
Both retailers received middling scores for pay and benefits, management, and culture.
Walmart Vs Target: Customer Demographics
Business Insider reports that Target’s “ideal” shopper is a suburban Millennial mom with a four-year degree and a household income of $80,000 or more.
Walmart’s target market skews a lot older – 55 to 64 years of age – but is likewise a woman, but without mention of kids (perhaps an empty-nester?).
She “typically has an undergraduate degree,” and also earns $80,000 per year.
That last bit surprises me, but it might be a result of Walmart positioning itself toward that customer base with higher-end products (like the Sam’s Choice line).
While Walmart and Target compete for discount shoppers’ dollars, I think both retailers have done a fine job of establishing their niches and brand identities.
At Walmart, you’ll see super-low prices that you always count on and often messy or chaotic store experience and super easy returns.
Target has a more elevated and organized atmosphere, but the grocery selection is nowhere near as wide.
Whichever store you visit, you know exactly what you are getting yourself into before you even stop foot inside.