Is Chewy.com Really Cheaper for Pet Owners?

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KEY POINTS

  • Chewy, Petco, and Walmart are very similar in prices on common pet supplies.
  • When prices differed, Chewy was usually cheaper.
  • Sales and shipping charges can push other retailers ahead, so comparison shop for the best deals.

Nobody does picky eating like a spoiled pet.

Tightening the belt for yourself is one thing, but nobody wants to deprive our furry friends of the lifestyle to which they've become accustomed. So when inflation starts making eyes at your bank account, it's tough cutting anything from the pet budget. 

As you search for ways to save on your pet's favorite foods and toys -- and the medicines they are, at best, ambivalent about -- you'll probably stumble across Chewy.com.

While a bit of a wavemaker when it first launched, Chewy.com now has a kennel of competition happy to ship your kibble. So how does the retailer stack up? As it turns out, Chewy does compete well on prices, but Petco and Walmart shoppers aren't paying much more.

Savings are there, but only on some items

When you start doing an item-by-item comparison between the three major pet retailers, the prices are remarkably similar. 

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Of the common pet products we compared (including food, treats, and medications), all three stores had the same exact price on most items. Chewy and Petco, in particular, were identical almost across the board. Even the discounted Autoship prices were the same for all but a few items.

However, where the prices differed, it was nearly always Chewy that offered the best price. Sometimes they were better by a few cents -- other times it was several dollars.

Sales, coupons, and shipping

While Chewy definitely seems to be a competitive place to pick up your pet supplies, those looking to maximize savings would still be better off regularly comparison shopping. Why? Because the few times that Petco or Walmart beat out Chewy on price was due to sales and coupons

These sales could drop the prices quite a bit, especially if you take advantage of one of Petco's discounts for picking up your online order at a local store on top of the sale price. Petco also has a rewards program that Chewy and Walmart both lack.

You also have to keep shipping costs in mind. Chewy requires you to spend at least $45 to get free shipping. Petco and Walmart only require you to spend $35 -- or no minimum, for Walmart+ members -- as well as providing the option to pick it up in the store.

If you're regularly going through 60 lb. bags of dog food for your wooly mammoth (slash lap dog)  then sure, you'll get free shipping across the board. But what if you need a single bag of treats for your kitten? Walmart+ members can get it shipped for free. Petco shoppers can simply hit the store. But with Chewy, you pay $4.95 shipping -- or completely crush the delicate soul of your best friend, who really is the bestest kitty.

Selection varied, especially in stores

Of course, it's one thing to say, "Just pick it up at the store!" and another to, you know, go to the store, find the item, and get it home. Even without the logistics of moving giant bags of food or litter around, there's also the fact that the in-store selection will never beat what you can find online.

And that's something we found when comparing prices. Items that were readily available on the shelves of our local Walmart were typically the same price as the other retailers. But nearly half the items we looked for weren't sold by Walmart (this was especially common when looking at supplies for a pet other than a dog or a cat). Some you could find in its online marketplace sold by a third party, but prices were always very high on these items.

TL;DR

Long analysis short, yes, Chewy can save you money on pet supplies compared to other retailers, especially if you want things delivered and you order in bulk. But both Petco and Walmart both do better on a few items, so it's worth doing some comparison shopping at least once in a while. 

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