24 things you should buy at Target — and 24 more you should avoid at all costs

  • Some products at Target can be great deals, while others you’d be better off purchasing at other stores.
  • We asked retail experts and die-hard Target shoppers to list the best and worst items to buy at Target.

Target holds a place in many shoppers’ hearts for its affordability, convenience, and stylish products.

But with so many items under one roof, it can be hard to tell which are saving you money and which ones you’d be better off buying somewhere else.

We asked retail experts and die-hard Target shoppers to weigh in on the best and worst buys at Target. We compiled their answers, along with information from Consumer Reports.

Here are 24 items you should buy and 24 you should skip at Target:


Buy: Project 62 candles

Candles can warm up a space with sweet scents and soft light, and there’s no shortage of options at Target, with pillar candles, jar candles, flameless candles, and seasonal candles of all shapes, sizes, and scents.

They’re a favourite buy for Jen Coleman and Laura Wiertzeman, the founders of @targetdoesitagain, a popular Instagram account that highlights eye-catching Target products.

“So many good scents at a fraction of the cost of other stores,” Coleman and Wiertzema told Business Insider.


Skip: TVs and electronics

Except on Black Friday or in November, you’re better off looking elsewhere for a TV, according to the shopping site Ben’s Bargains. This also goes for most other electronics at Target.

“It’s very rare to see discounts on electronics unless an item is being clearanced out in favour of a replacement model,” said Kristin Cook, the managing editor of Ben’s Bargains.


Buy: Items from designer collaborations

Target collaborates with designers on products from wedge sandals to desk lamps, and they’re some of the most sought-after items in its stores.

Dianna Baros, who founded the budget fashion blog The Budget Babe, told Business Insider she’s a fan of the Project 62 + Leanne Ford Lighting Collection and had purchased a few pieces. She described the line as “modern and mid-century decor you won’t find anywhere else at Target’s prices.”


Skip: Market Pantry coffee

The classic roast from the Target brand Market Pantry didn’t impress the folks at Consumer Reports and was near the bottom of their ranking of blended coffees.

“It lacks complexity and leaves behind a bitter taste,” they said.


Buy: Intimates by Auden

Target

The intimates brand Auden, one of three new Target-exclusive women’s clothing brands, is advertised as having a “fit for you in every way” and offers a large bra size range, from 32AA to 46G.

“We love the underwear and bra line by Auden,” Coleman and Wiertzema told Business Insider. “Everything is under $US22, and they have all sizes.”


Skip: Up & Up trash bags

Shutterstock/gypsy.aiko

Private-label brands can be a good deal when they offer a product with similar quality as a name brand, but this doesn’t seem to be the case with Target’s trash-bag brand.

“The small savings that Target’s Up & Up generic brand provides is not worth it when your trash ends up on the kitchen floor,” Kyle James of the deal-finding website Rather-Be-Shopping.com told GoBankingRates.


Buy: Doormats

Shutterstock/Billion Photos

With eye-catching designs and a price that’s just right for an impulse buy, Target’s doormats are a solid pick.

“Target has the cutest doormats for $US12.99,” Coleman and Wiertzema said. “Always a fun, festive assortment to choose from.”


Skip: Craft and party supplies

Also on the Ben’s Bargains list of worst buys were Target’s craft and party supplies. The site said that quality isn’t the issue here but that with specialty craft stores like Jo-Ann and Michael regularly offering discounts of 40% or 50%, there’s no competition.


Buy: Smartly citrus-scented all-purpose cleaner

Within the massive category of household essentials at Target are cleaning supplies, including cleaning wipes, all-purpose cleaners, and cleaning tools.

Christy Palmer, the founder of All Things Target, a blog highlighting clearance deals, coupons, and notable Target finds, recommended this all-purpose cleaner from the Smartly private label.

“This cleaner has a sweet, tropical aroma, and it works great,” Palmer told Business Insider. “It comes in a large 32-ounce spray bottle that costs only $US1.59, so it’s a great value too.”


Skip: Fresh produce

Sure, Target’s got your back for packaged snacks – but when it comes to fresh produce, you’re better off at a traditional grocery store or farmers market.

Target scored poorly in quality, quantity, and variety on a 2017 Consumer Reports survey of customers’ grocery-store preferences.

“I prefer to buy my fresh produce at a grocery store that offers local produce or even at a local produce stand,” Palmer told Business Insider. “The selection at my store isn’t big enough to do all of my produce shopping, so I do it elsewhere.”


Buy: Smartly unscented facial-cleansing wipes

Face wipes are convenient for removing makeup on the go, but they can get pricey, with brands like Neutrogena selling 25 face wipes for $US6.29 and Simple selling 25-packs for $US4.49.

Palmer prefers Target’s house brand Smartly, whose 30-packs cost $US0.99.


Skip: Baby formula

John Moore/Getty

Baby formula is one product where it pays to buy in bulk, so you’d be better off buying at a store like Costco to save some cash, The Cheat Sheet said.


Buy: Archer Farms trail mix

Shutterstock

Target’s line of “budget-friendly” foods offers a wide range of items, many of which are cheaper than similar items from name brands.

“Archer Farms makes an amazing variety of trail mix, and they are super tasty too,” Palmer said.

She said her favourite was the peanut-butter monster trail mix, a sweet and salty mix of peanuts, peanut-butter chips, raisins, peanut-butter M&M’s, and peanut-butter-coated pretzel balls.


Skip: Phone accessories

Shutterstock/Marko Poplasen

While it may be tempting to buy a phone case or a charging cable at Target – you’re there anyway, right? – Ben’s Bargains said that mobile accessories rarely go on sale and that you can often find them for a fraction of the price on sites like Amazon.


Buy: Cat & Jack children’s clothing

This children’s clothing line is a Target exclusive.

“All the clothing and accessories from Cat & Jack are super cute, and they come with an amazing one-year guarantee,” Palmer said. “If anything doesn’t hold up, you can return it up to one year later with your original receipt.”


Skip: Books

Getty Images

You could definitely pick up a book or two at Target, but you probably wouldn’t be getting the best deal. For cheaper prices, The Cheat Sheet recommended heading to Amazon. Or you could support a local bookstore, of course.


Buy: Items from the Hearth & Hand With Magnolia Collection

Roy Rochlin/Contributor/Getty Images

This homeware collection is another Target exclusive, created with HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” stars Chip and Joanna Gaines.

Palmer said the collection “will give you the Magnolia Homes look for less.”

Baros said she also had her eye on the brand. “The farmhouse trend is so big, and this line taps into that, but with pieces for the home that are truly timeless,” she said.


Skip: Gift cards

Shutterstock/Perry Correll

Gift cards can be a great last-minute gift, but you’re not getting any discounts from buying them at Target, Ben’s Bargains said.


Buy: Threshold sheets

A Target-exclusive brand described as “casual and classic,” Threshold has everything from faux plants to pillows.

“Target’s Threshold sheets are a great quality with a low price tag,” Palmer said. “They come in a large variety of colours and patterns. Even better, Target often has their bedding on sale, so you can save even more on their already great prices.”

Baros also recommended the Threshold collection.

“Think Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware for less,” she said.


Skip: Up & Up full-sheet paper towels

Shutterstock/thodonal88

Yet another product that will end up costing you more if you go generic, Target’s Up & Up paper towels don’t perform as well as Bounty’s, at least one tester has said.

Jon Lal of BeFrugal told GoBankingRates that while Target’s brand is cheaper, Bounty “is more durable and requires the use of less sheets at a time.”


Buy: Sugarfix by BaubleBar jewellery

A collaboration with the online jewellery shop BaubleBar, this collection is sold exclusively at Target, with new items debuting each month.

“You can buy earrings, necklaces, and bracelets made by the popular brand at a price that won’t put a strain on your budget,” Palmer told Business Insider. “They offer lots of fun statement pieces in so many different styles.”


Skip: Batteries

You can find fairly inexpensive battery packs at Target, but they’re even cheaper if you buy at the dollar store or in bulk, The Cheat Sheet said.


Buy: Discounted holiday items

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Is there anything sweeter than stocking up on discounted chocolate after Valentine’s Day?

Palmer said that when buying seasonal items, she likes to wait until after the holiday for the best deals.

“Target marks down their holiday items as low as 90% off,” Palmer said. “Holiday items are 50% off the day after a holiday. A few days later they get marked down to 70% off, and then usually a week or so later they are 90% off.”


Skip: Market Pantry salad dressing

Shutterstock/pojvistaimage

While the condiments impressed the “expert taste testers” at Consumer Reports, the salad dressings they tried – Caesar, light ranch, and ranch – didn’t deliver and were described as “middling at best.”


Buy: Method cleaning products

The full lineup of this eco-friendly, non-toxic cleaning brand is available at Target. It includes hand soap, all-purpose cleaner, and a foaming bathroom cleaner.

Baros told Business Insider she buys a lot of cleaning products at Target, including Method dish soap and all-purpose cleaner.

“These are free from harmful chemicals and very budget-friendly too,” Baros said.


Skip: Furniture

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Target can be a great place to find stylish, affordable home goods to spruce up a space, but when it comes to frequently used items more prone to wear and tear, like couches, quality trumps aesthetic.

“Cheap furniture from Walmart and Target is just that – it works well for college students, but in the long run, consumers will pay more to replace these items,” Kendal Perez of Coupon Sherpa told GoBankingRates.

As an alternative, Perez recommended shopping at antique stores, thrift shops, and discount retailers like HomeGoods and Marshalls for items that are better-quality but still affordable.


Buy: “Dollar spot” items

Shutterstock/melissamn

Many an impulse purchase has been made in this seasonally changing section, also known as Bullseye’s Playground, that’s stocked with items that cost just a couple of bucks – though a handful are more than $US20.

“The Target ‘dollar spot’ is my weakness, but honestly I never have to worry about going over budget in this area,” Baros said. “I find unique toys and crafts for the kids, gifts for friends, and little home accents and even fashion pieces like scarves and hats for myself.”


Skip: Shoes

Sure, they’re cute and affordable, as fast fashion often is. But if you’re looking for something that will last you a season and beyond, The Cheat Sheet recommended checking out retailers like DSW or department stores like Macy’s that will often have sales on name-brand shoes.


Buy: Seasonal candy

Shutterstock/Leena Robinson

When shopping for Halloween, Christmas or Easter candy, there are many places to stock up, but Target is one of the best.

“Not only are they competitive when it comes to prices, Target often partners with large candy brands to offer exclusive flavours that shoppers can’t find anywhere else,” Sara Skirboll, savings expert at RetailMeNot, told Business Insider.


Skip: Name-brand beauty products

Joe Maher/BFC/Getty Images

Target offers generic versions of many popular skincare and cosmetic items from its Up & Up brand.

“Be sure to check out the price and ingredients of these items and score the savings with the Target brand, and avoid the name-brand products that you may get on Amazon or other competitors for less,” Skirboll said.


Buy: Kids’ shoes

Kids’ shoes at Target won’t last a lifetime, like, say Merrell or Keen shoes. But shopping consultant Trae Bodge told Business Insider that Target offers plenty of trendy styles of children’s shoes with of-the-moment accents and colour palettes, not to mention prices in the $US15 to $US20 range.

“Your kids will feel stylish and, when they grow out of them in a few months, they will be excited to go back to see what’s there for next season,” she said.


Skip: Name-brand packaged foods

Much like beauty products, food items from Target’s personal brand re worth buying when compared to name-brand products in the pre-packaged food space, Skirboll said. They deliver on taste and texture and usually have near-identical ingredients.


Buy: Sandals

Shutterstock/stockfour

“I’ve had very good luck with sandals at Target,” Bodge said. “I feel like their styles can be hit or miss during other seasons, but every summer, they carry a nice selection of footwear, including flip-flops. And you can’t really beat a cute pair of sandals for $US20 or flip-flops for $US4.”


Skip: Exercise equipment

Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Save money on exercise equipment like dumbbells, weights, and other workout accessories by heading to a fitness equipment specialty store or Walmart, where Skirboll said you’ll almost always find a better selection and prices. This also goes for larger workout equipment like treadmills and ellipticals.


Buy: Home decor

Target

If you need to add a little pizazz to your home, Target is a good option.

“From wall hangings to vases, there’s a broad range of stylish, decorative items,” Bodge said. “I appreciate that they are divided by price– under $US15, under $US25, under $US50 – on their site.”


Skip: Name-brand medications

If you’re looking for over-the-counter medications, buy the store-brand generic version, as long as the active ingredients and quantity match. Skirboll said that for prescriptions if you check RxSaver by RetailMeNot, you can often find savings of up to 80% off your medications.


Buy: Swimsuits

Shutterstock

Target offers affordable swimsuits that are in line with the latest trends.

“With one-shoulder tops, cut-out bottoms, high-waisted bottoms, and one-piece suits, there are so many styles to choose from,” Skirboll said. “Plus they have swimsuits for everybody with a maternity line, plus size offerings, and more.”


Skip: Joggers

Target

Not only does Target lack in selection, competitors like Walmart often have better deals when it comes to lounging essentials like joggers. It is refreshing, however, that Target offers a very wide range of sizes from petite to plus-size, as well as maternity.


Buy: Oliva June nail art stickers

Olive & June

You might not be able to make it to LA for a signature Oliva June manicure, but now you can get the DIY version. The brand just launched its nail art stickers at Target. At $US7.50 it’s a fraction of the price of getting IRL nail art, and it takes seconds as opposed to an hour.


Skip: Most underwear

Whether for men, women or children you’ll find better value packs when it comes to generic cotton underwear at competitors like Walmart, Costco, or Amazon.


Buy: Honest Company diapers

The Honest Company

Jessica Alba has worked with Target on promotional content, so it’s fitting that the retailer stocks an extensive assortment of her brand, Honest Company, products including a huge selection of their cult mummy-favourite diapers.


Skip: Moving boxes

Solis Images/Shutterstock

Why spend money on something you can get for free? That’s especially true for moving boxes, which are very pricey at Target. This one alone is nearly $US37. If you can’t negotiate free boxes with the moving company you’re working with, ask your local grocery or convenience store what time they discard all their boxes and you’ll get all the boxes you need without ever opening your wallet.


Buy: Jewellery storage

Target

Whether you’re looking for a jewellery tray, something to hang your necklaces on so they don’t tangle, an earring stand, or a hanging jewellery organiser, Target has it all.


Skip: Generic brand snacks

If you’re looking for generic brand snacks, head for Dollar Tree instead of Target. You’ll find everything from jerky sticks and nuts to chips, crackers, and pretzels at very low prices – just make sure to look at expiration dates because they aren’t always that generous.


Buy: Beauty exclusives

Amazon

Target has the exclusive on a relatively long list of beauty brands and products, almost all of which are affordably priced, good quality, and beautifully packaged.

Sonia Kashuk is probably Target’s best known brand collaborator, but they also have exclusive buys from Pixi, Kristen Ess, Pacifica, and more.


Skip: Children’s bikes

It might be worth splurging on an adult bike which you will be using for years, if not decades to come, but kids grow fast. Walmart and Amazon offer better deals when it comes to kids’ bikes, and they have a seemingly endless selection of adorable options your children will love.


Buy: Laundry supplies

Sarah Jacobs

Target has a wide selection of detergents, dryer sheets, softeners, scent boosters, and more, and you can often find them on sale.


Skip: Toothbrush head replacements

Anyone with an electric toothbrush knows that replacement heads are ridiculously expensive. Instead of finding them at Target, go to Bed Bath and Beyond where not only can you use $US5 off or 20% off coupons easily found online, but many of their toothbrush heads come with mail-in rebates, too. Amazon also offers better prices than taret, and if you go generic you can save even more.

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