Why Walmart is increasing its online prices

Will this make you go to a Walmart store—or switch to a competitor like Amazon?

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Getty Images | Joe Raedle

If you’ve looked at Wal-Mart’s website lately, you might have noticed that the big-box retailer seems to have two different prices for some items: one higher price for online orders and then a lower price if you buy the item in a store.

For those of us who have become reliant on getting just about anything delivered to our doorsteps, the higher prices for online purchases might seem unfair at first. But Wal-Mart actually has a pretty good explanation for the difference in pricing. What it comes down to, essentially, is the cost of shipping and packaging certain items for delivery to customers’ doors.

“It simply costs less to sell some items in stores,” a Walmart spokesperson told The Pennyhoarder. “We always work to offer the best price online relative to other sites.”

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Getty Images | Joe Raedle

With Walmart’s new system in place, you’ll be able to find two prices listed on Walmart.com for many household and food items—from macaroni and cheese to dog food to toothpaste.

For example a recent search showed that a 28-ounce jar of Jif Creamy Peanut Butter costs $5.26 if you order it online, but $4.28 in the store. Want a family-size package of Double-Stuf Oreos delivered to your door? It will cost you $4.47, but you can get the same item at a Wal-Mart store for $3.56.

 

Despite the price difference, consumers can still pre-order online—taking advantage of the lower, in-store prices—and then pick up their orders from a brick-and-mortar Wal-Mart store to avoid paying the higher online prices. However, if you want items shipped straight to your doorstep, you’ll have to pay the premium.

Personally, I think the overall price difference would be enough for me to justify picking up a delivery (Wal-Mart will even load up your car for you!) rather than having it show up at my door. However, I can see some consumers getting annoyed enough at the initiative that they switch retailers entirely, especially if store pick-up simply isn’t an option for them.

This is a fairly new initiative for Wal-Mart, so there’s no word yet on whether this will help increase revenue or drive more people to stores in the long run—but apparently, that’s a gamble the retail giant is willing to take.

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