Spotlight on Walmart: 2022 Edition

Walmart is a store you’ve probably shopped at at least once in your life, but are there reasons to go there more often?

Overview

Walmart is one of the largest companies in the world. They are most well-known for their “supercenter” stores where they offer both groceries and general merchandise (electronics, clothes, small appliances, and more). The stores also operate smaller “Neighbor Markets” as well as large “Hypermarts” as well as their online division. Walmart also owns the Sam’s Club brand of warehouse clubs.

Merchandise Selection

Most Walmart stores carry a variety of products: everyday essentials, entertainment, basic furniture, apparel, and more. Depending on its size and location, Walmart directly competes with other mass merchandisers like Target, low price-oriented retail models like Dollar General, grocery stores, and more specialized retailers like Best Buy.

Not all products at Walmart are available online, but Walmart.com generally carries more options than a local brick-and-mortar store. Plus, third-party sellers add more options, and Walmart has also partnered with businesses like ThredUp.

Walmart.com has a number of filters that include category, price range, retailer, and speed (pickup or delivery), but some items can be miscategorized or just be not optimal. “Naruto”, for instance, defaults to a page to show you either clothing or toy results; There’s no option for movies or games without adding another search term or choosing that category beforehand. Third-party offerings, like on Amazon, can also clog up search results.

Walmart.com "Anime" Search

Walmart carries a selection of anime and manga, but stock (whether before or after release) can be inconsistent. Some volumes may be available while others will have disappeared — or perhaps were never available to start with. Major titles, particularly for anime, are often carried in-store, but there are never guarantees they’ll be available on or around release date. And just like other products, the larger the store, the more likely you’ll find anime and manga. At times, stores may have dedicated displays. Related merchandise like shirts, posters, and figures are also often available.

Gamers will find most non-niche titles stocked at Walmart. Special editions tend to be available in limited quantities online. Video game-related merchandise (especially for Nintendo flagships like Super Mario Bros. and Pokémon) are regularly present.

Pricing

According to Walmart, “Every Day Low Price (EDLP) is the cornerstone of our strategy, and our price focus has never been stronger.”

Walmart does not do weekly sales like Target and other stores, but they do have occasional sales events. Items may drop in price temporarily (“rollback”) or be discounted to move (clearance). In-store pricing can vary from one location to another on these reduced priced products as well as regular priced ones. You can often compare prices online by selecting store pickup, searching for an item, and then choosing another location.

Walmart.com pricing can also be different from store prices. A lot of the times, this is due to the site automatically pricematching rivals like Amazon or Target. If an item is available for shipping or pickup from Walmart.com but is more expensive at a brick-and-mortar location, cashiers will match the price.

Most books in-store are at least 10% off, and anime box sets are typically even more off MSRP. But some of the best everyday deals are on video games; Most releases are available in-stores for $8 to $10 off retail. Online, video games are generally MSRP.

Price Matching

Walmart stores will only price match Walmart.com. Items must be in stock, and stores in Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico are not eligible. Walmart.com will match certain competitors’ online stores, including Amazon. Black Friday weekend and other exclusions apply. Walmart.com will not issue any refund if the price drops on a purchase on its website. The full policy can be found here.

Shipping & Payments

Walmart accepts most debit/credit cards, Walmart gift cards, PayPal, and pay later with Affirm. Pickup is free on items available in-store. Otherwise, it is $5.99 for most orders under $35 and free shipping on $35+. If available in your location, delivery from a local store starts at $7.95. Alternatively, most orders will ship free with Walmart+ and free delivery on $35+. Shipping is usually 2-3 days on most items.

Walmart+

Walmart+ is Walmart’s membership program. For $12.95 a month or $98 a year, the biggest benefit is free shipping on all orders. Oversized items and groceries are excluded, but grocery delivery is also free on $35+. Other benefits include discounted fuel, special sales, and scan-and-go checkout in stores. New members are eligible for a free trial, but benefits (mainly sales access) may be limited. New sign up promotions can appear from time to time, such as a $25 off $50 or $50 off $75 code with subscription.

Walmart+ Benefits

Services

Most stores have a pharmacy and auto shop. Customers can also place bakery, deli, and photo orders as well as transfer money. Some locations may have salons, doctor’s offices, fast food, or other stores inside. Walmart has also teamed up with CExchange to trade in old electronics online.

Returns & Exchanges

Most items can be returned for a refund or exchange to Walmart within 90 days. Cell phones have a 14 day policy, and most other electronics, including video games, have a 60 day window. Other exceptions to the 90 days include air mattresses, opened drones, air mattresses, and more. Online purchases can be returned to the store or shipped back for free. The full policy can be read here.

Final Thoughts

For a lot of anime and manga fans, Walmart will be Amazon’s backup. If something is out of stock on Amazon, Walmart is a good second place to check. Prices are usually roughly the same on products like media, and while free shipping for non-members is a bit higher versus Amazon ($35 versus $25), it usually isn’t too hard to find something else to get free shipping. But too bad all the third-party offerings (which include a lot of unofficial products) clog up the site.

I’ve found Walmart+ worthwhile for me. I like scan and go because it forces me to double check prices, and online, I can order some pantry essentials cheaper than the multi-pack price at Amazon. Another positive for me is because Walmart uses FedEx, they will deliver on the weekend. For things on Amazon, I must order by about Wednesday midday or else I can’t get an item until Monday from UPS.

Anyway, each year, the number of anime-related goods I spot at Walmart seem to rise — manga volumes, hoodies, mystery boxes. I’m sure that will keep growing as more titles move into the AAA or general acceptance category like Naruto and Dragon Ball. Always nice to see items in-store where you don’t have to deal with unrelated items and unofficial goods online. Plus a lot of prices are around or beat other retailers’ sale prices, like T-shirts for $10 or less. They’ve also had some very good prices on anime sets, like all of Death Note for about $15.

Still, Walmart won’t be any anime fan’s #1 retailer, but fans should keep them in mind to stumble across deals or merchandise without having to go to more specialized retailers.

Are you a regular Walmart shopper? Are you subscribed to Walmart+? Any interesting anime/manga-related goods you’ve spotted at Walmart?

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