Consumer Reports: What to buy and what to skip at Walmart

UNDATED -- Walmart is known for value, but a good price is only key if you're getting a good product. So how can you tell if something is a smart pickup? Consumer Reports takes us into its labs to get a handle on what to get — and what to forget — at Walmart based on the latest tests.

Think shopping at Walmart is a bright idea? Consumer Reports' tests show it could be, if you're in the market for LED light bulbs.

Dan DiClerico with Consumer Reports said, "LEDs are typically very expensive, but after 3,000 hours of testing, we found several from Walmart that are cheap and really good." Including a Great Value, 60-watt equivalent, A19. Use it three hours a day, and it should last about 22 years. Not bad for $10. Several Great Value floodlights are also a good bargain.

Another good deal is Wild Oats organic food. Tod Marks compared prices for pantry staples like ketchup, beans, marinara sauce, and creamy peanut butter.

Tod Marks with Consumer Reports said, "Walmart's prices for organics were cheaper than local supermarkets for everything we looked at, often 50 percent cheaper."

Consumer Reports regularly includes Walmart's Great Value brand in blind taste tests against big brands –– and found several winners, including ranch dressing, vanilla ice cream, and mozzarella cheese.

Consumer Reports' tests show several of Walmart's paper products are also good bargains. Great Value Facial Tissues with Lotion are ultra soft, as is the top-rated toilet paper, White Cloud, 3-ply ultra. And Walmart paper towels are both strong and absorbent.

But testers in the laundry labs found not every low price is a great value. The Great Value Natural Laundry detergent had downright dismal performance in the latest tests.

A good reminder that a low price can also be a washout.

You also may want to skip the meat and produce aisles at Walmart. Although it is America's largest grocer, Walmart earned low scores for meat and produce quality in Consumer Reports' most recent supermarket survey.


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