Walmart’s tape-total ads draw blood?

Walmart has run a series of price-comparison ads all over the country comparing its tape totals to those of key competitors, especially in the grocery business. Now those competitors are fighting back (often in court), and I posted the following comment on RetailWire in reply:

Walmart’s key competitive advantage is its perception as the low price leader. The price comparison ads are a very aggressive way to make that point. While it may or may not be accurate to claim — after the fact — that the Walmart ads are misleading, the competitors who are complaining now were probably caught flatfooted in the first place on their overall pricing.

I’m sure both sides in each of these complaints feel that they have the facts in their corner. And to justify higher prices vs. “cheap food” (in the case of Pick ‘n Save) is not a strong argument when comparing identical branded packaged groceries. Item-by-item it’s possible to beat Walmart, but their claim is based on overall tape totals.

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