Wal-Mart Beats Amazon Prices as ‘Glee’ Shows Disparity

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BLOOMBERG — In an era of serial comparison shopping, Amazon.com Inc. has seemed unassailable. Yet for many kinds of merchandise — the first-season DVDs of “Glee,” say — shoppers can get a better deal at Wal-Mart Stores Inc., both online or at a superstore.

A study conducted by Kantar Retail, a London-based research firm, compared prices on a wide range of 36 items and found that on average they’re 20% more expensive at Amazon than at Wal-Mart. The “Glee” DVDs? At $38.99, they were about $14 pricier at Amazon than Wal-Mart when the study was conducted in April. On goods such as food, Amazon’s prices were almost 60% more, though some items are cheaper, the study said.

Consumers “trust Amazon will have a low price,” said Anne Zybowski, a Kantar analyst who co-wrote the study. “On many items, they do have competitive prices. That’s how Amazon has won millions of customers one shopper at a time.”

Still, when it comes to controlling prices, Amazon is playing catch-up with Wal-Mart, which has been building its supply base, wringing costs from its vendors and amassing buying power for 50 years. Amazon is working on bringing in new vendors and lowering costs in its supply chain, Zybowski said.

Last year, the Seattle-based company’s sales grew 41% to $48.1 billion. Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, increased U.S. sales at its namesake stores 1.5% to $264.2 billion. Wal-Mart shares have climbed 27% in the last 12 months, compared with a 14% gain for Amazon.

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