retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Kantar Retail is out with its annual Walmart vs. Amazon pricing study, concluding that Walmart.com has a price advantage over both Amazon and Walmart's bricks-and-mortar stores.

"While historically the Supercenter has dominated from a price-point standpoint, this year’s findings indicate a shift to more alignment between Walmart.com and the Supercenter, with aggressive pricing in general merchandise on Walmart.com yielding the most competitive offer overall across the three venues," the study says.

The two major findings:

• "The Walmart Supercenter’s basket was 5% more expensive than the Walmart.com basket.  While the gap between the Supercenter and Walmart.com basket is narrower this year, the advantage for Walmart.com is a reverse from last year’s iteration of the study when the Supercenter was 7% cheaper."

• "Amazon’s basket was 12% more expensive than the Supercenter’s and 17% more expensive than Walmart.com’s.  Amazon’s baskets were most expensive in three out of four sub-baskets, including edible grocery, where the retailer was 37% more expensive than both Walmart channels."

“The results of this year’s study are not entirely unexpected,” says Anne Zybowski, vice president with Kantar Retail. “Amazon continues to hone its prices in the face of increased cross-channel and online competition, while Walmart evolves its alignment between its store and online positions."

Meanwhile, on the pricing front, Bloomberg reports this morning that Walmart is cutting prices on more than 20,000 items - a move designed "to get a jump on competitors before the holiday season … The discounting will last 90 days and begin with price cuts focused on electronics and toys. Wal-Mart will also reduce online prices on Nov. 2 for a 24-hour period, featuring what it described as 15 deals that are comparable to the ones found on Black Friday."

The story goes on to say that "to improve customer service, the world’s largest retailer plans to open more checkout lines during peak shopping times, executives said on a conference call yesterday. Wal-Mart is also considering matching in-store prices with online competitors if a customer asks, they said … The company is testing a plan to match online competitors’ prices at stores in Atlanta; Charlotte, North Carolina; Dallas; Phoenix; and northwest Arkansas. Individual store managers are already allowed to match online prices if they want, the company said."
KC's View:
Walmart seems to have gotten a bit of energy boost, perhaps from the leadership of new CEO Doug McMillon. That just makes life more complicated for its competitors … including and especially Amazon.