Does Walmart Really Have the Lowest Prices?

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A new online price comparison tool from Walmart could save you time and money.

Just how cheap are Walmart’s “Always Low Prices”? Now you can find out.

The world’s largest retailer has rolled out an online tool dubbed Savings Catcher that enables customers to compare the prices of food and household items purchased at Walmart with prices of its competitors.

If Walmart’s merchandise doesn’t have the lowest price, the retailer will issue a gift card for the difference to the customer, according to The Associated Press. The gift cards can be spent immediately either online or at Walmart stores, or the card can be used to accumulate savings.

Savings Catcher is available in the following markets:  Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Huntsville, Ala.; Lexington, Ky.; Minneapolis, Dallas and San Diego.

This is how it works: After shopping and purchasing items at Walmart, customers can input their receipt code online here. The customer first has to have an account set up on Walmart.com. And receipts need to be entered within seven days of the purchase date, the AP said.

Savings Catcher then compares the prices on the receipt with the advertised prices of Walmart competitors in the region, but not online retailers.

The AP said:

The tool doesn’t include purchases on store-label brands or those made online. The tool also doesn’t apply to general merchandise like clothing or electronic gadgets, but does include groceries and things like detergent.

Sounds great, right? Tom Webb of the St. Paul Pioneer Press said the pricing tool is just OK. When Webb ran his own receipt, Savings Catcher price-matched only items that were included in competitors’ weekly ads. In Webb’s case, 10 competitors’ ads were initially included.

Webb spent $134.14 at Walmart, and then entered his receipt online. Savings Catcher told him that it would take up to three days for the receipt to be processed. In the end, only eight of the initial 10 stores were used for price checking. Webb received a credit of $5.62, or 4 percent, of his Walmart bill. He wrote:

In all, nine items were cheaper elsewhere, and the difference was electronically credited to my account, to be redeemed later at Walmart or Walmart.com — ensuring, for Walmart’s sake, that I have to make a return trip.

The Pioneer Press said Milwaukee supermarket analyst David Livingston doesn’t see the Walmart program as a big money-saver for shoppers.

“It’s a little bit of a gimmick, a little PR move to remind people [of Walmart’s low-price claims], but it’s not going to be significant,” Livingston said. “But the competition won’t be able to do this.”

It’s not yet known when the program will be expanded nationwide.

What do you think of Savings Catcher? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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