Walmart has about 4,742 outlets in the US, while retail behemoth Walgreens has close to 8,000. With so many locations across the country, it’s no wonder that both businesses are doing well financially.
According to the most recent Fortune 500 report, Walmart generated $550.15 billion in revenue in 2021 compared to Walgreens’ $135.94 billion. Which pharmacy is less expensive for the consumer, though?
We set out research to compare prices at both retail giants and factored in costs at big-box retailer Walmart to answer the question – “Walmart vs. Walgreens – which is better and cheaper?”
Walmart vs. Walgreens – Which Is Better And Cheaper in 2023?
According to a recent study, Walgreens charges about 40% more than Walmart for the same assortment of products. Sterne Agee analysts bought 33 identical goods to evaluate costs across the two stores for the report.
The experts anticipated greater prices at the chain drug stores given the low-price assurances of the bargain retailer Walmart. But, they didn’t expect their markups to be so high.
At Walmart, the baskets cost $95.42. At Walgreens, they cost $40.96 more. Consumables such as razors and soap carried the most significant premium, followed by food and drinks, then domestic items.
What Walmart is all about are grocery stores, supermarkets, hypermarkets, superstores, department and discount stores, and local markets. Groceries, consumables, health and wellness, technology, office supplies, entertainment, hardlines, fashion, and home categories are all available at consistently cheap costs in the company’s locations nationwide.
Additionally, it runs warehouse clubs, such as Sam’s Clubs. Equate, Bonobos Fielder, Mainstays, George Onn, Parent’s Choice, Time and Tru, Wonder Nation, and No Boundaries are just a few of the private labels and licensed brands that Walmart sells products under.
The business provides financial services, fuel, gift cards, money orders, prepaid cards, wire transfers, money transfers, check cashing, and bill payment services, among other connected goods.
Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (Walgreens Boots Alliance) is a company that offers retail and wholesale for health and wellness products.
The company sells pharmacy products like prescription and non-prescription drugs, beauty and toiletry products, health and wellness services, and mail and central specialty pharmacy services through drugstores and online.
Its retail and business brands include Walgreens, Alliance Healthcare, Duane Reade, and Boots. Some of the health and beauty brands the company sells worldwide are No7, NICE!, Finest Nutrition, YourGoodSkin, Soap & Glory, Liz Earle, Sleek MakeUP, and Botanics.
It does business in both the Americas and Europe through its subsidiaries. The main office of Walgreens Boots Alliance is in Deerfield, Illinois, in the United States.
Walmart vs. Walgreens: Overview
|Net Income (as of 2021)||$2.05B||$883M|
|Market Cap (as of June 2022)||$324.3B||$34.0B|
|Revenue (as of 2021)||$572.8B||$132.5B|
Walmart vs. Walgreens Price Comparison
Walgreens has more than 8,000 stores all over the US, making it one of the biggest drugstore chains in the country. It sells items from the pharmacy, groceries, electronics, and other valuable items.
Even though it is a popular store, customers often find it one of the most expensive compared to others, like Walmart.
You might be wondering why Walgreens is being shied away from. We’ve gathered some information to see how the prices of the most common medicines at these two retail giants differ.
Walmart vs. Walgreens: Prescription Drug Prices
250 mg, 5 days
|Atorvastatin Calcium (Lipitor)|
Walmart vs. Walgreens: Vaccine Prices
Walmart vs. Walgreens: Over-the-Counter Medication and Vitamins Prices Comparison
|Centrum Silver Vitamins|
|DayQuil Severe Cold & Flu|
|Mucinex DM Expectorant and Cough Suppressant|
(16 fl. oz.)
(2 fl. oz.)
|Abreva Cold Sore Treatment|
|Rogaine Men’s Foam|
|Afrin Original Nasal Spray|
|Flonase Allergy Relief|
(.34 oz./ 60 sprays)
|Delsym Cough Suppressant|
|Claritin Non-Drowsy Indoor/Outdoor Allergies|
|Cepacol Extra Strength Sore Throat Lozenges|
|Orajel Severe Toothache and Gum Relief|
Walmart vs. Walgreens: Personal Care/Beauty Product Prices Comparison
(super, 36 ct.)
|Secret Clinical Strength Solid|
|Skintimate Shaving Cream|
|Gillette Venus Tropical Disposable Razor|
|Listerine Cool Mint|
|Eucerin Original Healing Body Lotion|
|Head & Shoulders Classic Clean|
|Clairol Nice n’ Easy Hair Color||$6.92||$6.99|
|Softsoap Antibacterial Soap|
|Revlon ColorStay Overtime Lip Color||$7.98||$7.29|
|CoverGirl Full Lash Bloom Mascara||$6.20||$7.69|
|Olay Total Effects Anti-Aging Moisturizer|
|Always Ultra Thin Pads With Wings|
|Sensodyne Pronamel Toothpaste|
(women’s small, 19 ct.)
How Are Walmart and Walgreens Compared Regarding Savings, Selection, And More?
According to a Cheapism’s study, there’s more to think about than price when choosing between Walmart and Walgreens. There are also things like selection, location, customer service, and other things that might make even the most frugal person choose one of the more expensive pharmacies.
Even though some of the things that are looked at may change from place to place and even from a visit to visit, it is always found that stand-alone pharmacies charge more than big-box stores for everyday health and personal care products and services.
This finding is essential for people who want to save money and time and like the idea of going to one place to buy groceries, get a flu shot, or fill a prescription.
At the same time, drugstores like Walgreens offer a more comprehensive range of products that fit their niche, and rewards programs and store brand products help close the price gap.
This comparison doesn’t include independent pharmacies where prices vary a lot and warehouse clubs like Walmart, which may be able to save you a lot of money on prescription drugs. In many states, membership clubs are required by law to fill prescriptions for people who are not members.
However, customers must pay to join if they want to buy other goods, including comparing several items. Many people feel that the membership fees are worth it, but not all do.
Drugstores are often the first place people go to fill prescriptions, but they don’t always have the best prices. Walmart had the best prices on most of the medicines on our list. Walgreens was the most expensive place to fill all of the prescriptions. They charged more than twice as much as Walmart.
Note that the prescription drug prices we compared are for people who don’t have insurance. If they did, the costs would depend on the customer’s insurance plan, not on the pharmacy. “Most health insurance” is accepted at Walgreens.
The pharmacy prices don’t include discounts from prescription savings programs, which can help people who don’t have insurance pay less for their medications.
For example, the Walgreens Prescription Savings Club, which costs $20 per year for an individual and $35 per year for a family, shows a one-month supply of clopidogrel (the generic version of Plavix) costs $15 with membership but $114.09 without one.
Walmart has a long list of $4 generics available to anyone who pays out of pocket. You don’t need health insurance or a discount card.
Sometimes it’s easier and maybe even cheaper to take care of basic health needs like routine eye exams, health screenings, or vaccinations at the local pharmacy instead of making an appointment with your primary care provider.
Even though insurance may cover some or all of the cost of many health care services, especially preventive care, it’s still a good idea to compare prices if you’re paying out of pocket.
We looked at how much nine common vaccines, like flu shots, cost per dose at pharmacies or in-store clinics. Walgreens had the lowest total price, but none of the vaccines were sold at the lowest price.
Walmart had the lowest prices for many vaccines, and only the pneumococcal vaccine was more expensive there.
Over-the-Counter Medications and Vitamins
We looked at the prices of 15 popular over-the-counter medicines and vitamins, such as Advil, Claritin, Prilosec OTC, and Abreva, to see how they compare. Most things cost less at Walmart than anywhere else.
Rogaine Men’s Foam, which cost $81.87 at Walmart and $44.99 to $56.99 at the other stores, was a big part of the overall price difference. Walmart also raised the price of the Plan B One-Step emergency birth control by about 25%. Walgreens was not a cheap place to buy anything.
Several things on the list above are sold at Walmart and Walgreens in a generic form. At the same store, these store brands are always cheaper than the name brands, and generic substitutes are more common at stand-alone pharmacies.
For example, instead of paying $9.94 for a 24-count pack of DayQuil Severe Cold & Flu at Walmart, you could pay $13.49 at Walgreens.
Especially when it comes to store brands, drugstores usually have a better selection of pharmacy and personal care products than big-box stores. Within each chain, the selection varies from store to store, but between Walmart and Walgreens, Walgreens had the best selection.
Even if they only need a few products, many customers will pick a nearby store over one more affordable. Furthermore, the allure of value-added services and one-stop shopping cannot be disputed.
Walgreens offered advantages like automatic prescription refills, text/phone/email reminders, home delivery, and online or app prescription management from their 400 clinics and 8,900 locations overall.
Another popular advantage offered by every company we compared was drive-thru or curbside prescription pickup.
What Are Walmart Pharmacy Pros and Cons?
At its pharmacies, Walmart maintains its reputation for offering affordable costs. Customers may need to give up some customer service and choices to spend less. This also adds to Walmart’s extensive range of $4 generic medications being hard to top.
Another consideration is convenience; you can shop for almost anything else you need while you wait.
- Lowest prices for most the prescription drugs
- Lowest total for the personal care/beauty products
- Many common generic prescription drugs cost just $4 for a 30-day supply
- A wide range of merchandise allows for convenient one-stop shopping
- Pharmacy staff may be overworked due to store size and breadth, which results in poor customer service
- Compared to rivals, there is a smaller range of several popular over-the-counter medications and personal care/beauty products
- In-store health clinics are a convenience that is rarely found
- Customer satisfaction in the JD Power 2021 US Pharmacy Study was below average
What Are Walgreens Pharmacy Pros and Cons?
For prescription medications, Walgreens charged more than double what Walmart Pharmacy did. But, customers value Walgreens’ extensive assortment, affordable store brands, and reward point programs, as well as the pharmacy savings and savings on prescriptions.
- Lowest overall vaccination cost, yet not the cheapest location for any one vaccination
- In all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands, there are almost 9,000 locations
- Comprehensive prescription savings programs without insurance provide significant reductions on common drugs
- More excellent choice of specialist pharmacy products than big-box retailers, including a variety of (less expensive) store-brand products
- Highest prices on prescription drugs in our survey
- Fewer in-store clinics than its closest competitor, CVS
- 30-day return window
Walmart and Walgreens each have their own benefits and drawbacks; depending on the goods, the price may not always be the lowest. Therefore, if you need any product, you can always check their websites to compare them independently and purchase it from whichever is the most affordable option.