Like many moms, Petra Colindres pays some attention to the prices of things she buys.
"I mean I look at them and then I hope I can find a sale on them, like a coupon and then I put them in the cart," she said.
NBC 6 Responds went shopping for more than a dozen everyday items including laundry detergent, sandwich bags and toilet paper, to see if there were any price variations store to store at several area Target and Walmart stores.
At Target, we found the same lotion and disposable razors were cheaper online than in-store, while the trash bags and shave cream we price checked were more expensive online. A 24-pack of water cost $3 at most Target stores NBC 6 Responds checked, while the Target store in Plantation had it for the online price of $4.99. The Target in Plantation had the highest total cost at $105.05, followed by Target online at $103.85.
A survey of 14 similar items at some Walmart stores in South Florida found the retailer's online prices were, overall, lower than in-store.
"I wouldn't have thought that," Petra said.
NBC 6 Responds found no pricing differences among five of the Walmart stores visited. But did find two stores in Hialeah that were selling the same laundry detergent at a higher price than the other stores checked.
"Consumers have more power and it makes retailers have to up their game," said Lin Humphrey, a marketing professor at Florida International University.
Lin said there are several reasons why a retailer may vary pricing store to store.
"It could be that they're updating pricing in their system and it hasn't rolled out to all the locations," he said. "It could be that they're running a pricing test in a certain store to see if similar stores perform differently or move more volume at a lower price."
Lin said consumers should use their smart phones to compare prices.
"Time is money," Lin said. "You may have pricing variations but you just need to decide how much is it worth for that extra amount of effort."
In a statement, a Target spokesperson told NBC 6 Responds: "We're committed to providing value to our guests and that includes being priced competitively online and in our stores. While pricing and promotions may vary, Target's price match policy allows guests to match the price of any item they see at Target or from a competitor…"
A Walmart spokesperson said: "We're committed to providing our customers with everyday low prices – it's part of our DNA. While there are a variety of factors that are considered when pricing an item, including location, we don't comment on our pricing strategy for competitive reasons." The company also said its online prices are based on a proprietary algorithm that adjusts prices in real time to remain competitive in the market, which is why consumers may see a different price online than in store.