What kind of deals does one of the world's largest retailers offer for anime and manga? Let's take a look!

Walmart

Walmart is one of the largest companies in the world. They are most well-known for their “supercenter” stores where they offer both groceries and general merchandise (electronics, clothes, small appliances, and more). The stores also operate smaller “Neighbor Markets” as well as large “Hypermarts.” Walmart is known for their competitive prices; if you find a lower price in a local ad or at a major online retailer, they will match the price. Their Savings Catcher function of the Walmart app (for Android and iOS) also allows people to let the app find lower prices and get the difference between competitors’ prices and what they paid in a Walmart gift card. Walmart is also one of the few stores who will give you cash back if a coupon exceeds item price. They do not, however, offer their own coupons.

Selection

Walmart stores occasionally carry some of the big-named anime and manga titles in stores. From my experience, if they carry one set of an anime, they are likely to carry the other sets. For manga, it seems to be pretty random. I’ve seen volumes of Naruto, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, and Yo-kai Watch over the years. They are testing out carrying more manga (especially Viz Media titles), so keep an eye on the book section of your store.

Online, they have a much wider selection. They have releases from all the major companies. However, searching for titles is, quite frankly, a mess. Manga can be found in different sections. I’ve seen manga in graphic novels, general fiction, children’s, and, quite often, in no category whatsoever. You are better off searching for a specific series rather than just browing for manga in general. For anime, most discs are listed in the “Anime & Animation” category, but some do show up in categories like “Walmart Exclusives” and “Television”. Even when you look at specific sections like “Anime Drama,” you will find decidedly non-Japanese releases like the animated show Tiny Toon Adventures and the live action movie Indecent Proposal.

Strangely enough, Walmart may carry a preorder title for a while and then deactivate the listing. The item may never be able to be ordered again, even after its release. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to why certain releases are only available for a limited time.

Their online store has been carrying more video game special editions, making it an option when other stores are sold out.

Pricing

Walmart focuses on “everyday low prices,” so they don’t often have sales. They do release ads, but not on a weekly basis. Many of the prices in the ads are just their regular prices being advertised. Items both in-store and online go on rollback; some rollbacks will be permanent (or very long-lasting) and others will only last a couple of days. I have noticed pricing can vary widely from one store to another. I flipped when I saw milk in a Walmart in a large urban area was nearly $4 a gallon; at Walmarts closer to me, it was less than $2. Walmart stores also tend to run their own clearance specials. An item may be marked down at one store but full price at another.

If you manage to find manga in a brick-and-mortar store, volumes are usually marked 10% or 25% off. Anime box sets are usually priced between 40% and 50% off MSRP. Titles like the Death Note box set have been almost 60% off.

Online, prices can vary widely for anime and manga. One volume of a manga series can be full price, while another can be 40, 50% off. Like with Amazon, Walmart seems to go through pricing shifts. Last summer, most manga preorders were heavily discounted (plus the free shipping). I got volumes of The Seven Deadly SinsMy Neighbor Seki, and Chi’s Sweet Home for over 50% off and plus got free shipping. However, in the fall and winter, the deals seemed to stop. Manga preorders were maybe 10% off. The site seems to be slipping back toward 35% on many titles, but it just varies. Amazon, Walmart, and Barnes and Noble often enter into a low-price battle, but you have to dig on all the sites.

As for video games, all new releases and preorders are regular priced. With memberships at Amazon and Best Buy, you can get many new releases (or, in Best Buy’s case, all releases) for 20% off. As such, Walmart should not be your primary video game store. However, they do tend to have some of the best video game deals during Black Friday.

Price Matching

As I mentioned earlier, Walmart and Walmart.com will price match products. Price matching in store means you can avoid stopping at multiple stores or worrying about shipping fees. You can also use a coupon when price matching.

If you want to price match in store, I find Walmart’s policy to be the most consumer-friendly. You do not have to have the ad to price match, although most registers will prompt the cashier to look at the store’s copies to double-check. They will price match buy one, get one free offers if a price is limited, but they do not match free gift card offers. Here is their policy along with a list of online retailers Walmart will price match. Some of the most significant retailers include Amazon, Best Buy, and Target. Again, you do not have to show proof, but I find it usually easier to just show the link on my phone instead of waiting for a clerk to check online if there’s a significant price difference. If you price match an online retailer, the item must be in stock; for brick-and-mortar stores, they will usually only check availability if the item is marked in the ad as extremely limited.

Walmart.com also requires items to be in-stock at the competitor’s site. You need to contact customer service before placing an order. I have never tried to price match a preorder, so I don’t know what their policy is in regards to items not yet released.

Shipping

Many items on their website are eligible for free site-to-store shipping or, if available at your local store, same-day pickup. If you want an item shipped to home, shipping is free on $50+ for most items.

They also have a program called ShippingPass where you get free 3-day shipping on many items with no minimum purchase. It costs $50 a year, half the cost of Amazon Prime. You do not get any extras like audio/video streaming. ShippingPass allows subscribers to order small amounts of groceries that are delivered to their doorstep. In comparison, Amazon often sells items like cereal and pasta in multi-packs, and individual groceries tend to require the purchase of a Prime Pantry box ($5.99).

Most book preorders on Walmart’s website are eligible for free shipping with no minimum purchase. This means that this is a good option for people who do not have Amazon Prime or a Barnes & Noble Membership. Both sites require $25+ for free shipping on book purchases, and they state they will not ship until all items are in stock. Walmart ships items as they become available. Most of my items have arrived two or three days after their street date via FedEx. If there’s a volume coming out soon, it’s worth checking out Walmart. Even though Barnes & Noble may have a title for 50% off, the free shipping may make Walmart a better deal for you. Because of this, the ShippingPass service appears to be geared more towards shoppers who want to make online grocery purchases than for people who buy books or other media.

Returns

Books and movies can be returned up to 90 days after purchase if unopened; otherwise, you may swap out a defective set for a new one if opened. Other products’ return policies vary by item. (Here is the return policy.) Most electronics, for instance, can only be returned within 15 days of purchase. You can return a limited number of items without a receipt (three in a 45 day period), and you will get a gift card on items $25+.

For Walmart.com, you can return most items to the store. All Walmart.com items must have a receipt (which can easily be printed from online). According to my store, they have stopped taking online returns for books. I am not sure if this is a company-wide policy change or just an individual store change. If you do need to send an item back by mail, you can use their pre-printed label. It does not state that the cost of mailing will be deducted from your refund. I have sent items back because I ordered a duplicate, and I did not have to pay for return shipping. I would advise against abusing this policy.

Final Thoughts

For anime and manga shoppers, Walmart seems to be one of those stores where you either get an incredible deal or no deal at all. I ordered dozens of manga volumes last summer, but I haven’t placed an order for a title in months. I do have my eye on a couple of titles, so I may be placing an order soon if no one else beats Walmart’s prices. However, searching for titles is simply a pain, and I hope someday they come up with reliable anime and manga categories and also stop deactivating listings.

While I do subscribe to Amazon Prime and Barnes & Noble’s Membership, I am not a member of Walmart’s ShippingPass programs. I am usually fine with the ship-to-store option. Of course, for book preorders, ShippingPass is pretty much worthless. I am a big couponer, so I go to the store to get my groceries cheaper than Walmart’s everyday price.

So, do you buy any of your anime or manga purchases at Walmart? What do you think of ShippingPass?