Does the end of Walmart’s price match policy mean the end of savings?

Find out if this Walmart policy change will affect your grocery bill.

Wal-Mart Cuts 4th Quarter Outlook After Lower December Earnings
Getty Images | Justin Sullivan

Generations of Walmart customers have loved and relied on the store’s price matching policy to ensure they’re getting the lowest prices.

Customers have been able to bring in local and online competitors’ ads and know that Walmart would match the price of any item that had a lower advertised price.

When Walmart announced last year that it would be discontinuing its price match program at certain store locations, customers were understandably shocked and concerned.

The announcement raised many questions. Would this make it tougher to guarantee low prices? Would people need to seriously switch up their shopping habits? How might this affect dedicated couponers and comparison shoppers?

walmart photo
Getty Images | Joe Raedle

The discontinuation of the price matching policy began in June and has continued in waves over the past two months.

Walmart initially estimated 500 stores would be losing the price match program, then bumped that number up to 800.

Now that the dust has settled a bit and we have some perspective, let’s see what Walmart’s policy change actually means for shoppers.

Taking away price matching won’t necessarily mean higher prices

Walmart made sure to inform concerned shoppers that the discontinuation of price matching would be accompanied by permanent price drops on items that were most commonly price-matched.

A rep for Walmart told Consumerist that all stores affected by the price match policy change would receive “significant, long-term” rollbacks on regular prices to make up the difference.

walmart photo
Getty Images | Joe Raedle

The Walmart Savings Catcher app basically price-matches for you

While customers at certain stores will no longer be able to bring in competitors’ coupons, Walmart’s Savings Catcher app still works at all stores and it does the exact same work for you—automatically, and for free.

Just scan your receipt bar code and the Savings Catcher will instantly compare all your items’ prices with online coupons and competitor prices.

If it finds a lower price for any of the items you purchased, it will automatically refund you the difference.

In addition, Walmart will still accept coupons issued by specific brands. Just one more reason not to worry!

walmart savings catcher photo
Flickr | frugal_lee

The change only affects a relatively small number of stores

Walmart isn’t saying which stores will be affected by the change, but The Penny Hoarder polled readers to compile an extensive list of stores that have ceased price matching.

You can see their list here.

It looks like the program is being nixed in stores spread out pretty evenly across the country.

walmart photo
Getty Images | Joe Raedle

And while 800 might seem like a lot, keep in mind that Walmart currently operates over 4,000 stores across the country.

RELATED: 9 Ways To Save Even More Money At Wal-Mart

So chances are that, if you’re a dedicated price matcher, you can still find a store that will honor your shopping strategy.

Walmart Is Testing A Giant Grocery Vending Machine

In attempt to create yet another way for customers to conveniently shop, Walmart is testing a new solution where customers can pick up online grocery orders through a giant self-serve vending machine.

That’s right, you can now get your entire grocery order right from a parking lot vending machine. You don’t even have to step foot inside the store to get your groceries.

Currently, the retail giant is only testing out the service in the parking lot of one of their Walmart SuperCenter locations in Warr Aches, Oklahoma, but depending on how the trial goes, we could see more popping up.

Similar to how you’d use their online grocery pick-up service, you shop and pay online. But instead of having an employee load your car, you step up to the giant self-serve kiosk.

The kiosks, equipped with a refrigerated section and a freezer, are about 20 feet by 8o feet in size. Once you’re notified that your order is complete, all you need to do is type in a code (provided at checkout) at the kiosk and your order will be ready in less than 60 seconds. Talk about speedy service!

Business Insider

There is currently no cost for the service, but customers must spend at least $30 in order to use it. The kiosks will be open around the clock, so if you’re busy (um, who isn’t?) you can literally pick up your groceries in the middle of the night.

According to Walmart spokesman Scott Markley, the stores using this new innovative service will be able to fulfill hundreds of orders on any given day.

And just because you’re getting your order out of a parking lot kiosk, don’t be fooled: You’ll still have the same selection that’s available to customers who choose to shop in the store. With more than 30,000 grocery items available online, you’ll have plenty of options.

“Especially for busy families with kids, grocery shopping used to take a couple of hours on the weekend,” Markley told Business Insider. “You can now pick up your groceries in just a few minutes and have more time back in your day.”

We’re into it!

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