Investigation finds Target app switches prices between store and web

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Shopping apps are a normal part of our daily lives these days. From grocery stores to restaurants, everyone seems to have an app. The Target app is one such app that is your mobile gateway to Target’s vast array of goods. Like many other apps, the Target app is designed to work for the best interests of the company. A new 2-month KARE 11 investigation shows the Target app displays different prices between the store and the web — even when standing in the parking lot.

KARE 11 found evidence of price switching in the Target app mere feet away from the store. One example given was the price of a 55″ Smart TV. The app showed the price of US$499.99 but when the crew stepped into the store, the app price changed to US$599.99.

To test this further, we selected 10 products on the Target app at random, ranging from toys to bottled water to vacuum cleaners. We found that when we entered the store, four of the 10 products jumped up in price on the app.

An Apple Watch band went up $2, a Shark vacuum went up $40, a Graco child car seat jumped $72 and a Dyson vacuum shot up $148 on the app while inside the store.

Our list of 10 items was a total of $262 cheaper in the back of the parking lot on the app with no indication that the prices had changed.


“That particular experiment reveals so many interesting facts about our retail environment. Somebody at Target programmed in an algorithm which says someone who is 50 feet within the store is willing to pay more. The most reasonable explanation is that you just revealed your commitment to buying the product, you’re in the store, or in the parking lot. If you are further away, you haven’t quite committed, so I’m going to give you a juicier deal. That’s why the price went up when you got closer to the store.”

University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management Marketing Professor George John
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The best way to avoid this price switch is not to share your location with the Target app. This should always show you the online web price even when in store. It a safe bet that other stores use this same method and it’s probably a good idea to limit how many apps have your location.

Target did give KARE 11 a statement, which read:

The Target app shows in-store pricing while in store, and online pricing while on the go. If a guest finds any item for a lower price across any of the ways they can shop Target, we’ll price match it.


What do you think about Target displaying different prices in their app based on your location? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter, or Facebook. You can also comment on our MeWe page by joining the MeWe social network.

[button link=”″ side=”left” target=”blank” color=”285b5e” textcolor=”ffffff”]Source: KARE NBC11[/button]

Last Updated on February 3, 2021.


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