No matter where we go, Walmart is seemingly on every street corner. Escaping the grasps of this giant shopping center is harder than escaping your childhood small town. As much as we sometimes dread this place, we find ourselves there over and over.
Walmart does try their best to maintain quality store standards, but understaffed teams and human error inevitably lead to mistakes.
The next time you go, the following Walmart shopping tips will protect your family, bank account and sanity.
1. Always shop with a cart
Even when you think you don't need a shopping cart, grab one anyway. You can use your cart as a shield and/or weapon to place between you and an attacker if another customer starts to get a little crazy (it happens).
Also, before using, clean the cart with a sanitizing wipe. You never know what was on the last user-of-the-cart's hands.
2. Don't dress to impress
Dressing up is not recommended because you might stick out like a sore thumb.
For those who are in a relationship, the less people you attract the better. And if you're single, you probably don't want to tell your future children you met your spouse at Walmart: "Your father and I met in the Walmart pasta aisle. Then, we talked for hours while sharing a Big Mac at the store's McDonalds." (See how awful that sounds?)
Pajamas or sweaty gym clothes will work just fine.
3. Check ALL food for expiration dates
Product expiration dates can easily be forgotten among the staff's many other responsibilities. As the shelves are stocked, products don't always get properly rotated like they are supposed to. Be careful because the yogurt in your cart might have expired four months ago.
4. Elude the 5 p.m. rush hour
Whatever the product is that you think you desperately need, it's not worth the 30-minute wait in line. Come back later.
5. Don't approach shoplifters
Retail shoplifters can be harmless teenagers trying to steal a pair of $10 headphones. Other times, though, shoplifters are part of a professional retail crime gang. They often have warehouses full of stolen retail products worth thousands or millions of dollars.
While you might be tempted to play the role of citizen cop, these people can be armed and violent. Walmart's money is not worth risking your own personal safety. When you see a woman stuffing 80-dollar LEGO boxes underneath a blanket in her stroller's bottom basket, let a Walmart manager know and walk away.
6. Forget staring
Yes, a different breed of humans roam these aisles.
Sally has bright blue hair and her shirt isn't covering everything. Her buddy, dressed in all black, has a two-foot tall, purple/orange mohawk on the top of his head.
You don't want to accidentally make anyone feel bad, and staring at the wrong person can cause a heated confrontation. On the bright side, your shopping trip will help you to feel more normal.
7. Pick the right gift cards
A Walmart gift card will inevitably force one of your loved ones to make an extra Walmart trip themselves, which is an awful experience you wouldn't wish on anyone.
Thankfully, Wally World offers a variety of restaurant and retail gift cards to choose from for birthdays and other special occasions. Choose one of these instead.
8. Compare with other retailers for large purchases
Bobby's birthday is next week, and he wrote down the new Star Wars video game on his wish list. Your heart might come to a halt when you see Walmart's $59.99 price point. Thankfully, you can find the same game on Amazon for $20.
Walmart is often an ideal location for saving money but not always.
9. Don't rely solely on WSC for price matching
Walmart has an app called Walmart Savings Catcher (WSC). After a shopping trip, customers use the app to scan their receipt and Walmart uses the receipt to compare the prices of competitors. Then, the customer gets the price-matched "savings" on an e-gift card.
In theory, this app would allow you to get the best deal on every item while shopping only at Walmart, but it's not that simple. For example, Walmart only uses this price-matching method against national competitors, so they don't even bother to help you compare their prices to your locally owned grocery stores.
10. Wash hands thoroughly after shopping
You just came in contact with dozens, if not hundreds, of random strangers.
Heck, why stop at hand washing? Tossing your clothes into the washer and hopping into the hot shower is your best hope for disease prevention.
11. Avoid going at night
I know Walmart is a necessary part of life for many families, so I won't try to tell you to avoid it completely. However, if you are ever hungry for snack food at 10 p.m. on a Friday night and you have to choose between going hungry or making a trip to Walmart in the dark, I won't judge you for choosing to go hungry until morning.