MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s hard not to notice that CVS drug stores are popping up around the metro.

CVS has about 50 stores in Minnesota compared to Walgreens, which has more than 130. But how do the chains score when it comes to price on key items?

We visited a CVS and Walgreens within half a mile of each other. We picked out six popular items: Scott toilet paper 4-pack, Diet Coke 12-pack, Maybelline Great Lash Mascara, Advil 50 tablets, Gillette shaving cream and Secret deodarant.

The six items were a combined $28.24 at Walgreens and $26.17 at CVS, a difference of $2.07. The biggest price range was for Maybelline Great Lash mascara, which was $6.99 at Walgreens and $5.49 at CVS, a difference of $1.50.

While CVS turned out to have better prices than Walgreens in our shopping trip, we decided to expand our survey to a hometown company: Target. We found that for our six items, Target’s prices beat both CVS and Walgreens.

Remember the items that were $28.24 at Walgreens and $ 26.17 at CVS?  At a nearby Target, the price was $23.70. That means our items were $4.54 less at Target than at Walgreens. That Maybelline mascara that was $6.99 at Walgreens was only $4.79 at Target, that’s a difference of $2.20.

Another big price spread: The Gillette shaving cream was $3.99 at Walgreen, $3.79 at CVS and just $2.49 at Target, It’s a lesson some say will change their shopping habit.

A spokesperson for Target pointed out their in-store credit card offers an additional five percent off all purchases.

CVS officials said by joining their free preferred customer program, shoppers can often get coupons and in-store rebates that can result in the lower prices.

Walgreens officials said they are constantly monitoring pricing to ensure they remain competitive. Their prices reflect the costs of doing business in the area as well as the nearby retail competition.

Here is a breakdown of the items  and what they cost at each store:

At CVS, Scott toilet paper was $4.59, a 12-pack of Diet Coke was $3.34, Maybelline mascara was $5.49, Advil was $5.59, Gillette shaving cream was $3.79 and Secret deodorant was $2.87 for a total purchase of $26.17.

At Target, Scott toilet paper was $3.99, Diet Coke was $4.00, Maybelline mascara was $4.79, Advil was $5.84, Gillette shaving cream was $2.49 and Secret deodorant was $2.49 for a total purchase of $23.70.

At Walgreens, Scott toilet paper was $4.79, Diet Coke was $3.49, Maybelline mascara was $6.99, Advil was $5.99, Gillette shaving cream was $3.99 and Secret deodorant was $2.99 for a total purchase of $28.24.

Comments (36)
  1. Carol Erickson says:

    I have watched WCCO news for quite awhile, but tonight I was appalled at the reporting on Walgreens, CVS & Target. All of those companies are locally managed even if they are nationwide, and to do the blatant price comparisons that you did made it harder for them to do business in this area. I’m sure that Walgreens will be the biggest looser in this reporting with CVS next. Target gains – how much did you get from them to promote their store? I know that’s not a fair question, but that’s what it seems like. To put Walgreens in the light that you did could almost be called defamation of character. Don’t they spend enough advertising $$$ with you? The kind of reporting that you did in the comparison shopping will cause them to loose business and in this day & age it’s hard enough to run a business. It’s up to the customers themselves to do their own comparisons. I am very disappointed in your “reporting”. That doesn’t seem to fall under the category of “news” .

    1. Bob says:

      Are you a manager of or store or something? All WCCO did was point out the prices. What they should of done was point out prescription prices where Walgreen’s has had a 300% markup on certain ones and why I can no longer use my insurance there because my insurance company decided to not renew their contract with them. How about that comparison? You mention that what they did could almost be called defamation of character, pointing out FACTS is not defamation of character.

      1. Tom says:

        @ Bob

        I agree with you!

  2. leroymcleod says:

    I use “Get Official Samples” to find free samples of major brands online. Please note they update their samples every day but I just pick what ever available at that time and use them.

  3. Joe Hanson says:

    While I shop more at Target, Walgreens has a larger selection of store brand medications and everyday products. And store brands are usually less expensive. You can check their website to see if a product is in stock at your local store.

    Plus the local Walgreens has a large section of “As Seen On TV” gadgets.

  4. Al says:

    Wow – how come just these three stores?

    1. I come in peace says:

      And why do they not say what size the deodorant or shaving cream is? Are you comparing travel size to the “20% more items,” is this the shaving cream with more aloe or for sensitive skin? Be clear!

  5. Pink says:

    What about PRESCRIPTION prices???

    1. Karyn says:

      Walgreens is expensive when it comes to prescriptions-I compared them to my Rainbow Foods pharmacy and couldnt believe the difference. I switched right away and am saving a lot.

  6. Bill P says:

    If you decided to bring Target into a price comparison between 2 Pharmacy chains why did you exclude K-mart and Wal-mart. Bringing the local behemoth into the mix simply because they are local and excluding the stores they’re competing with because they aren’t HQ’d locally smacks of journalistic nepatism. My own price comparison between the 3 big stores showed on the items I was interested in WalMart had the lowest price, Target was a dollar more and K-Mart $1.50 higher than Target. So it seems Rain Man was right about K-Mart, on that product anyway.

    1. MOM says:

      I always shop Target, so this was good to hear. Although the nearest Walmart is too far away to be convenient, I wouldn’t shop there anyway. Walmart is too overstocked and messy, hard for me to navigate, the place makes me very claustrophobic, so even if it is a little cheaper and closer, I still wouldn’t go

      1. Uncle Rico says:

        Caned Target Exec reply.

        1. john says:

          I agree! Target person made sure to push the target credit card in her response! Pretty tacky!!!

      2. Tom says:

        @ Mom

        I agree I love Target. And the problem with Wally World is that the employees dont know that much!

    2. Tom says:

      @ Bill P

      K-mart is not going to be around much longer . And Walmart has had false advertising for years.

  7. loracaroll says:

    They ask for your zip code to provide ones that match the products in your local Target and Printapons and other online sources. Be sure to check out the websites of your favorite products often has coupons

  8. steph says:

    While this is a no brainer that Target would have lower prices, the report doesnt remind you that you spend tons more than you planned to when you go to Target. I buy Walgreens because even though the item I want may be a few cents more than Target, I dont have the lines and I dont have the impulse shopping I do at Target.

  9. ThisOne says:

    Did that really surprise anyone? I mean, did anyone think that Walgreens or CVS would have been cheaper than Target? Bring Kmart into the picture. That place should just be condemned!

  10. Tom says:

    Geeze…it’s just a news story. They are providing a service. It’s up to you the consumer to do the research and find the best prices. I expect to pay more at a convenience store than a discount retailer.

    If you seriously get all of your information from one news channel on how to go about your life…well you need to get a life.

  11. Uncle Rico says:

    I’m with the majority on here. Took one look at the 3 stores being compared and smelled BS. Read the “story” and had to go take a shower. Pathetic CCO.

  12. George says:

    I always look at the Sunday Ads and find Walgreens to be the lower priced of CVS and Target on their ads for their sale items. Why would I want to shop elsewhere for the few items I always know who has the better deal.

  13. Jen says:

    None of these price comparisons really matter when you consider that if you’re really looking for the best deal, you’d watch the sales flyer and use coupons. There are times I can get something for free at Walgreens after coupons that would be much more at Target, and times I can get something for free at Target with coupons and the 5% for using the Redcard debit card that would be more at Walgreens. Choosing random items on one day and comparing them makes for an interesting snapshot on what the best deal is that day, but a real bargain hunter who was concerned with truly getting the best deal knows that nothing in this story really tells us anything. I know not everyone uses coupons or watches sales, but that’s really the only TRUE way to get the best deal on specific products. It also might mean stocking up two or three times a year when something is free or nearly free. A one-store-fits-all strategy is a nice idea, but not the most effective way to save money in this economy.

  14. Kevin says:

    Who cares? 55% of MN gets it all for free!

  15. helpermonkey says:

    Writing a comparison story on these three chains without discussing the Express Scripts / Walgreen’s contract debacle is just lazy reporting. Its easy for a retailer to be less competitive on pricing when a significant amount of prescription drug traffic has been involuntarily re-routed through the doors. Tell the whole story.

  16. rex says:

    Ultimately, in the end, It’s up to the consumer to decide what he/she wants to pay. You want a good deal, you shop the ads, clip coupons. I know people who get stuff for FREE at Walgreens/ CVS because they are rewards members, combine the rewards w/ coupons and often price ends up being free. You have to do your homework if price is the most important to you, don’t just assume one news story and a handful of products always gets you the lowest prices at Target. One can assume because they are a large volume discount chain, they would traditionally be able to offer lower prices in general, but sale prices and rewards purchases can result in lower prices at the smaller chains. On the other hand, if price is not an issue ever, & you enjoy the convenience, in&out, not waiting in lines kinda store, then CVS or Walgreens might be the better VALUE for you!

  17. John says:

    Why even run this story without testing Walmart prices. Unless of course Target paid you to run this story. Walmart probably would have been less than Target. And isn’t that the point of the story, to find the best prices?

  18. john says:

    Also, taking so few items in the comparison shopping report was the wrong way to do this shopping comparison. Do it with 25 items and then get back with me! That’s why I never take these kind of stories seriously!

  19. Gail says:

    The Walgreen’s by my house is open 24 hours a day. That is of value to me. The CVS by my house has less selections than does Walgreen’s. Target is farther away and it takes more gas to drive there and I have a greater chance of being in a car accident while driving there. At Walgreen’s you can show them your AARP membership card when you check out and you’ll get some decent coupons including the “spend $5 and get $5 off” type coupons. This is a typical, shallow shopping comparison story (or non-story as the case may be). I think WCCO’s resources could be better utilized on a real story.

    1. I come in peace says:

      Love the variables Gail, great comment.

  20. Jay says:

    Im surprised no one has brought up the fact that each company has different capabilities to store quantities. WalMart has of course the largest, warehouses with distribution sources near by, they can order larger quantities,with new shipments arriving daily. We all know the ability to purchase in large quantities saves them, and us money.. Target is smaller in comparison, but yet is comparable to WalMart in pricing, if not a bit higher. Walgreens distribution center is in Illinois and shipments are made to stores on a regular weekly basis. Kmart, too has to have their supplies shipped in from out of state and shipments weekly.. Sale ads are made up weeks in advance to sales, and are special buys from suppliers. No matter if you shop one store, or another, each has a specific wholesaler they purchae from. Some are better priced than others. You can notice the difference when grocery shopping too. Item for item, prices vary from one to the next.

  21. Sean says:

    I think they need to do a larger sample of items. If you throw out the mascara the difference in price between Walgreens and CVS is minimal. This article should mention Walgreens’ Prescription Savings Club. For only $20 a year for an individual or $35 a year for a family, someone can get hundreds of generics for $12 for a 90 day supply. Members of the Prescription Savings Club also get 10% off of all Walgreens brand items.

  22. Jeanne says:

    On the same day I compared a 1oz tube of medicated ointment. It was $8 at CVS and $6 at Target. Neither item was on special. I couldn’t believe it so I compared the same item a few weeks later with the same result. Both items were “store brand”. This price did not include the 5% discount or any CVS discounts.

  23. MA says:

    Unfair comparison, were these advertised specials in one store and not the other? Looks biased to me. I personally prefer Walgreens – local, better service, selection, and just cleaner.

  24. retail employee says:

    I take customer service over price any day. My dad and I once went to buy printer ink at major office supply retailers that were directly across the street from eachother. We walked into the one with the cheaper price, but couldn’t find a single employee offering assistance; they were teamed up helping other customers (when one employee would suffice) or standing around talking with eachother. We went to the second store and were immediately greeted with assistance the moment we stepped in the door. It was worth the extra couple bucks.

    Also take location and selection into comparison. Target should not be included in this, because they are not a drugstore chain. Also, were the items selected on sale at all the stores? Is that the regular price of the items? Did you compare the same sizes? Is that the basic version of the item, or did you compare things like regular vs sensitive skin, which can be slightly different in price.

  25. Sunny says:

    Next please compare prescriptions at all three and Walgreens will lose again. Walgreens is convenient and convenience cost money.

  26. blueface says:

    prices vary from store to store. ALso walgreens has a TON of coupons in the store that Im sure were not applied to the purchase. If you you the in store coupons in the ad walgreens is cheaper. Im sure CVS may be the same with coupons but i do not shop there because Walgreens has better service.

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