I’m not a big fan of Walmart as an institution and I often go out of my way to avoid shopping there. I’m also fairly thrifty (cheap?) so there are times during the year when an advertised item is so darn inexpensive that I simply have to take advantage of the offer.

Here are a few shopping tricks I’ve learned and used to get things at the low, low Walmart price with a minimal amount of shopping at Walmart, especially during Black Friday.

1. Other Stores Price Match Walmart

Lots of other big chain stores will price match anything at Walmart. This is important because Walmart is famous for advertising a screaming deal in the newspaper and then only stocking one or two of that item with a little “no raincheck” policy tacked on to the ad. Whenever Walmart has a great sale on a major brand product (TV, video game, electronic device) you can often just go to another store that doesn’t have that item on sale.  It will mostly likely have it in stock and you can still pick it up for the cheaper price.  As an added bonus you won’t have to step foot in a Walmart at all!

If you’re going to shop at different stores to try this strategy, be sure to have a printed version of the Walmart ad with you.  Buying a newspaper to get the ad is probably a worthwhile investment.

2. Your Smartphone Pays for Itself

When I’m at Walmart or any store and I’m looking to purchase something which seems to be on “sale” I’ll often pull up one of my little barcode scanner or shopping apps and check the prices online. If I find it cheaper online and I’m not in a hurry to get it I’ve been known to order things right there in the store. This year Amazon.com matched a lot of Walmart’s Pre-Black Friday sales on the same day that Walmart’s sale began.

3. Ignore Walmart.com Inventory Check

Seriously, if you don’t learn anything else from this article, learn not to trust the Walmart.com site. Walmart.com and Walmart the retail store are actually different companies and they don’t always work well together. I’ve been told by several employees that the Walmart.com site includes all the stock in the entire Walmart store – even the items that are reserved in layaway and unable to be sold. I think Walmart allows this to continue so that it can drive people to the store looking for something that they think is in stock.  Once in the store a customer is more likely to buy other things as well, even if the original item is not available for sale.

True story: I went looking for the Disney Infinity Starter Pack at my local Walmart last week. The website said they had it in stock,  When I complained to the employees the game was sold out they just laughed and told me how the system really works.  In addition to erroneously counting all the stock in the store, the website inventory is only updated overnight, so after a busy day the site is bound to be woefully inaccurate.

4. Put Popular Things On Layaway

Layaway allows you to pull an item from the shelf and have Walmart hold it for a few months while you slowly make payments on the item. Walmart only offers this during the months leading up to Christmas and usually only on certain things (electronics, toys, small appliances, jewelry and a few other categories). This is backed by Walmart’s Ad Match, so if the price drops during the layaway period you can take advantage of it. Case in point: Again, Disney Infinity Starter packs were piled up high on Walmart shelves in October, but all the stores had sold out shortly after the Pre-Black Friday sale. In reality my local store had 18 Disney Infinity Starter packs sitting in layaway, but those were already claimed.  If I had put the item on layaway when I saw it I’d have been able to waltz over to the customer service desk and picked up the game much less than the original price without worrying about whether or not it was “in stock.”

5. Shop at the Store the Day After Layaway Ends

I hate actually going into a Walmart, but this could be worthwhile.  This is another trick given to me directly by a Walmart employee. She said I should check back on the day the layaway promotion ends. On that day all the items still in layway (and it can be a lot things) are returned to the store’s inventory.  Walmart isn’t stupid: they still want to sell those items if they can.  The particular day changes each year, so be sure to check with Walmart.  This year Walmart’s layaway program ends on December 13th.  The employee who told me this said she does the bulk of her Christmas shopping on that day because it’s so easy to find the toys her kids want.

 

I was finally able to pick up the Disney Infinity Start Kit for half price by using a combination of tricks 1 and 2.  I stood in Walmart and called around to other stores in the area, asking if they had the item.  I found a Target which held the game until I got there.  I then presented the Walmart newspaper ad and had the price reduced!

Got other tricks for taking advantage of Walmart deals without actually shopping at Walmart?  Feel free to share them below!