We compared Walmart in the US to its UK sister store Asda, and while both offer a variety of food, Asda takes it to the next level

Tom Murray/Business Insider, Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderAsda and Walmart both offer variety and fresh foods.
  • Walmart isn’t just the largest retailer in the United States – it’s also the largest retailer in the world, with e-commerce sites and sister stores in countries like China, South Africa, India, and the UK.
  • In the UK, Walmart acquired Asda – a UK-based supermarket that’s the third largest in the nation – for $US10.8 billion in 1999.
  • We decided to see firsthand how similar the two sister stores actually are, so we visited an Asda Superstore in Sittingbourne, Kent, in the UK, and a Walmart Supercenter in Secaucus, New Jersey, in the US. Both are the most common model of each respective store.
  • While Walmart is definitely an “everything” store, the Asda we visited seemed like more of a supermarket than the Walmart we went to. Walmart had a deli counter, bakery, and walls of packaged meat, but Asda had fishmongers, butchers, and a place for DIY pizza.
  • After visiting both locations, we thought Asda was a better supermarket, while Walmart was a better hardware-meets-home-goods store.
  • While both stores were fairly simple to navigate and offered a ton of variety for the products they did have, if you’re coming to the states from the UK, don’t walk into Walmart expecting to find as many ready-made lunches as you would in Asda.
  • Similarly, don’t expect to find Walmart’s giant, colourful cereal selection on the shelves at Asda.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.


We decided to pit two sister retailers against one another to see what the shopping experience was like at both: Walmart, the largest retailer in the US …

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderThe Walmart Supercenter in Secaucus, New Jersey.

Source: Business Insider, Forbes


… vs. Asda, the UK supermarket Walmart acquired for $US10.8 billion in 1999.

Tom Murray / Business InsiderAsda store in Sittingbourne, UK.

Sources: Wall Street Journal, Statista


Asda is the UK’s second largest grocer, controlling 15% of the market. Specifically, we visited the Asda Superstore in Sittingbourne, Kent, in southeast England …

Google Maps

Source: The Guardian


… and the Walmart Supercenter in Secaucus, New Jersey. Both stores are the most common format of each brand name.

Google Maps

Source: Asda, Walmart


In the UK, the hallmarks of the world’s largest retailer were immediately apparent at this Asda Superstore — the yellow lines that pop out of the “A” were the same as the ones that followed the word “Walmart” on its own sign.

Tom Murray / Business InsiderAsda, Sittingbourne, UK

The entrance of Asda was full of gardening materials, like mulch …

Tom Murray / Business InsiderAsda, Sittingbourne, UK

… and a variety of potted plants.

Tom Murray / Business InsiderAsda, Sittingbourne, UK

There was also a place to pick up a scanning device, which the location of Walmart we checked out didn’t offer.

Tom Murray / Business InsiderAsda, Sittingbourne, UK

In the US, while walking up to the entrance of Walmart we also saw a large outdoor gardening display. There were both potted and hanging plants, bags of mulch, and so many flowers in bloom.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

We visited at the beginning of spring in the US, so this giant floral display made sense.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

Once we stepped inside Asda in the UK, we saw the entrance was filled with bulk buys and special offers, including school clothes for kids.

Tom Murray/Business InsiderAsda, Sittingbourne, UK

There were bulk displays at the Walmart Supercenter in New Jersey as well, but they weren’t as much of a focal point as they looked to be in Asda.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

There was a display of discounted flower bouquets that stole the spotlight instead.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

To our left, we were faced with a sprawling bakery section. There was a counter where shoppers could order custom cakes behind several display stands with cookies, cupcakes, and other goodies.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

At Asda in the UK, there were a couple of fridges near the entrance, holding sandwiches, snacks, and drinks for hungry workers who wanted to come in for a quick bite. While multi-buy “meal deals” — sandwich, chips, and a drink for a fixed price — are a big part of UK lunch culture, Asda says its prices are so reasonable that it doesn’t need to provide customers with a special offer.

Tom Murray / Business InsiderAsda, Sittingbourne, UK

Source: Somerset Live


Local newspapers were also on display near the entrance of Asda.

Tom Murray / Business InsiderAsda, Sittingbourne, UK

The magazines and tabloids at Walmart in the US were all lined up by the checkout stations.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

Walking further into the UK store, we were first confronted by walls of fresh fruit and vegetables …

Tom Murray / Business InsiderAsda, Sittingbourne, UK

… where organic labelling was omnipresent.

Tom Murray / Business InsiderAsda, Sittingbourne, UK

It’s standard for UK supermarkets to have fruit and vegetables at the front of the store, which is a psychological trick designed to make you feel like you’re entering someplace natural and fresh, one psychologist explained.

Tom Murray / Business InsiderAsda, Sittingbourne, UK

Source: Shape magazine


The Walmart Supercenter in the US used the same tactic when it came to fresh foods. Stepping past the flowers and bakery, we walked right into the produce section.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

There were signs all over the produce section indicating “fresh” food “grown close to home.”

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

Both stores gave a good first impression and had similar produce section layouts, so we couldn’t pick a winner in this category.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

Asda also had lines of fridges filled with fresh meat and fish.


The meat and fish sections at Walmart in the US were stocked as well. The wall was separated into sections labelled ground beef, pork, poultry, and seafood.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

The backs of UK supermarkets are often organised into fishmongers, butchers, bakers, and deli counters where customers can ask for specific cuts, and this Asda was no different. Supermarkets in the US are often laid out in the same way.

Tom Murray / Business InsiderAsda, Sittingbourne, UK

While the Walmart we went to in New Jersey didn’t have a fishmonger, it did have a deli counter similarly situated on the perimeter of the store.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

Next to Walmart’s deli counter was a wall of pre-packaged deli meats and cheeses. While this was a nice addition and offered a lot of variety for anyone shopping in this section, it fell short of all the fresh protein on offer at Asda.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

Moving through the rest of the food sections, there were a lot more similarities between the stores. Brits love ready meals, which come pre-made and pre-packaged — all you need to do is put them in the oven or microwave.

Tom Murray / Business InsiderAsda, Sittingbourne, UK

Source: Bupa


And no UK supermarket would be complete without a variety of Indian and Chinese takeaway meal options. The convenience of these ready-made meals comes at a price, though, as they are often high in salt and fat and low in other nutrients.

Tom Murray / Business InsiderAsda, Sittingbourne, UK

Source: Bupa


There was a large section of ready-made meals at Walmart, too. Not only were there some near the grocery section, but there were loads of others in the freezer and refrigerated aisles of the store.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

Asda’s high-end range, called Extra Special, included dishes like Cottage Pie with Red Wine Ragu and King Prawn Linguine. For $US13 (£10) we could have gotten a two-course Extra Special ready meal with a side and a drink.

Tom Murray / Business InsiderAsda, Sittingbourne, UK

The quick and easy lunch option we saw at Walmart in the US was a small selection of salads for around $US4 (£3.15) each. Asda definitely had a better selection of grab-and-go foods.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

This Asda location also had a DIY pizza counter where shoppers could choose their own toppings.

Tom Murray / Business InsiderAsda, Sittingbourne, UK

Walmart’s pizza section consisted of frozen pies. Asda took this category as well.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

In Asda’s bakery section, there was an industrial-sized oven where bread, pastries, doughnuts, and more are prepared on-site every morning.

Tom Murray / Business InsiderAsda, Sittingbourne, UK

The Walmart Supercenter in New Jersey also had signs letting customers know that bread and other baked goodies were baked in the store that day. Because of this, the bakery category was a tie.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

The Asda store had some hot food options, almost all of which were chicken in some form or another.

Tom Murray / Business InsiderAsda, Sittingbourne, UK

A selection of chicken — usually different flavored strips and some rotisserie options — is typical for US supermarkets as well. The Walmart we visited had a hot-case for its chicken selection that almost matched Asda’s, but it included other hot options like mashed potatoes and corn as well. Since there wasn’t much of a difference here, this category was a draw.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

Along with hot and fresh foods, Asda had plenty of pre-packaged foods, too, including a wide variety of cereals. But we noticed the store’s shelves were a pretty even split between dry foods like breakfast bars and fresh food like meat and vegetables.

Shutterstock.comAsda UK

Meanwhile, in the US, Walmart Supercenter had a vast selection of dry goods like walls and walls of cereal, snacks, and junk food.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

When it came to sugary, reminiscent-of-childhood cereals, Walmart definitely won.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

Moving away from the dry foods, the Sittingbourne Asda had a wide selection of frozen foods, offering at least two dozen different types of pizza.

Tom Murray / Business InsiderAsda, Sittingbourne, UK

The Secaucus Walmart Supercenter had a handful of aisles with freezer and refrigerator cases — each filled with different categories of food ranging from toaster waffles to organic frozen dinners.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

Ultimately, Walmart just had a much larger frozen foods section, so this round went to the US store.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

In the UK, Asda had plenty of Coca-Cola options — including a peach flavour — for anyone looking to pick up a drink with their meal.

Tom Murray / Business InsiderAsda, Sittingbourne, UK

While we didn’t see a peach-flavored Coca-Cola on the shelves at Walmart, there were a lot of other options to choose from instead. We saw an entire section just for beverages with four, dual-lined aisles of soda. The variety at Walmart was much better than at Asda.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

Certain aisles in Asda that had lots of liquids, like the soda aisle, also had cleaning stations situated between shelves. There were none of these stations at the Walmart we visited — Asda got points for encouraging cleanliness.

Tom Murray / Business InsiderAsda, Sittingbourne, UK

Moving through the store, we saw lots of holiday swag. Even though Easter was still months away at the time of our visit to Asda, the UK store had a full aisle of chocolate eggs, bunnies, and more.

Tom Murray / Business InsiderAsda, Sittingbourne, UK

We visited the Walmart Supercenter ahead of Memorial Day, and we saw plenty of celebratory goodies as well. The holiday cheer was spread out throughout the store, showing itself in cupcake decorations and party socks alike.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

In general, there seemed to be more holiday-themed products in Walmart than there were in Asda. So if you’re looking to do a one-stop shopping trip for decorations and themed cakes, Walmart would be the better store to visit.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

At a larger Asda, like the one we went to, those accessories and paper goods from Walmart would be located on the second floor. The upper floor is typically reserved for non-food items like clothing, homeware, toys, books, and electronics. There was also a café and a pharmacy at the Sittingbourne location.

Tom Murray / Business InsiderAsda, Sittingbourne, UK

The options at Asda’s café were extremely cheap: a six-item breakfast was just $US4.50 (£3.50), and lunches started at just more than $US5 (£4).

Tom Murray / Business InsiderAsda, Sittingbourne, UK

With McDonald’s being the closest thing this Walmart had to a café, Asda won in this category.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

While Asda’s pharmacy consisted of a counter and a few shelves of necessities, over in the US, Walmart’s pharmacy section was large, and we found everything from over-the-counter remedies to toiletries. The extensiveness in the type of products on offer gave Walmart the edge when it came to the pharmacy.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

When it came to electronics, there was a bit of a bigger divide between the two stores. Asda had tons of DVDs on offer, but not many people were perusing them on our visit.

Tom Murray / Business InsiderAsda, Sittingbourne, UK

The movie selection was also pretty vast at Walmart. There were a few stands set up with a variety of DVD sets, and these bins of discounted movies were sitting in the middle of the floor. But just like at Asda, the electronics shoppers didn’t seem to be paying much attention to the disks.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

Instead, they were looking at the electronic equipment.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

Walmart in Secaucus had a huge space devoted to technology, while Asda’s was confined to a few aisles and was more focused on kitchen appliances than entertainment tech. The Walmart Supercenter had everything from iPads …

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

… to landline phones. The tech at the US store blew Asda out of the water.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

Fitness trackers — part-tech, part-jewellery — were on display in the accessories section of the Walmart we visited. This section had a lot of jewellery, bags, and eyeglass frames. Walmart won here, as Asda didn’t have any of this merchandise on offer during our visit.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

George at Asda, the store’s clothing line, is extremely budget-friendly. The sandals in this photo were just $US8 (£6).

Tom Murray / Business InsiderAsda, Sittingbourne, UK

While there were walls and walls of sandals at the Walmart we visited, the ones featured at the head of the aisle were selling for $US13 (£10).

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

The clothing section at the Walmart Supercenter in Secaucus was decently sized, but a little difficult to navigate. It was a little crowded with walls and racks, so we weren’t able to flow from one section to the next as easily as we would have liked. Still, the selection was bigger than Asda’s, so Walmart would be the better option for purchasing clothing.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

Next to some of the clothes at this Walmart Supercenter location was a set-up featuring outdoor furniture. Both stores had their own versions of outdoor supplies sections, so there wasn’t a clear winner in this category.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

When it comes to home goods, this Walmart Supercenter had Sittingbourne’s Asda Superstore beat by a mile. Walmart was selling everything from $US199 (£160) bunkbeds …

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

… to $US74 (£60) microwaves. Meanwhile, in the UK, Asda barely had a home goods selection at all.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, Connecticut

Walmart also had a wall of kitchen knives on offer.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

Asda recently made the decision to remove kitchen knives from its shelves in a bid to prevent knife crime, which has been a concern in the UK for several years. Nick Jones, Asda senior vice president, said the company had “a responsibility to support the communities we serve.”

Yui Mok / PA Images via Getty ImagesKitchen knives for sale in an Asda store in London before they were removed from shelves.

Source: BBC News


Toward the back of the Walmart Supercenter was a large selection of toys for children. There were aisles and aisles of board games, bikes, sporting equipment, and toys for all ages.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

Kids’ toys in Asda ranged from Lego to Barbie dolls and soft plush toys. While there were plenty of toys to choose from at Asda, Walmart’s selection was enormous and secured the US retailer another category win.

Shutterstock.comToys on a shelf at an Asda store in the UK.

If you were shopping the toy section for a kid’s birthday, you’d probably also want to pick up a card. Asda had a card for every occasion …

Tom Murray / Business InsiderAsda, Sittingbourne, UK

… as did Walmart. Since both stores had a decent selection of cards, this round was a tie.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

Looking at the “Pet Care” sign in the back of Walmart, we noticed it was also written below in Spanish. Every area marker in Walmart had dual-language signage.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

Source: Business Insider


While we didn’t see any signs in Asda that were translated into foreign languages, the store did seem to cater to the country’s largest foreign-born populations — namely those of eastern Europe and South Asia — in its “World Foods” section. The Walmart we visited didn’t have a global section, but there were different international foods sprinkled throughout the aisles. Asda won in the foreign food department.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

The Asda checkouts were bare compared to their counterparts at Walmart, offering just a few sticks of gum and some batteries.

Tom Murray / Business InsiderAsda, Sittingbourne, UK

Self-checkout lines at Walmart also featured gum and little snacks …

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

… but assisted checkout lines featured cold cases for water and soft drinks, loads of candy, and some sort of featured impulse-buy item at the head of the aisle.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

There was also a section next to checkout that displayed items customers may have seen on TV commercials. Stocked checkout spaces pushed Walmart ahead in this category.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

Overall, we concluded that Walmart was the better store for someone shopping for anything other than food.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderWalmart, New Jersey

Although Walmart had a seemingly endless variety of everything on offer, Asda took food to the next level. Its fresh and prepared foods and protein stations made it the clear winner over Walmart’s deli counter for anyone wanting to fill their bellies.

Shutterstock.comAsda, UK

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.