Walmart vs. Costco: How Do They Really Compare?

Every villain needs a hero, and in the press, Walmart and Costco have been portrayed as the dark lord and white knight of low-budget retail. In recent months, Walmart has been criticized for allegedly underpaying and mistreating its employees, while Costco has been lauded as a kind of corporate Dumbledore, nurturing its workers, and fighting to make the world a kinder and more affordable place.

So how do the country's two biggest retailers really fare head-to-head? Check out the breakdown below.
Average Cashier Salary
Walmart: $8.53 [Glassdoor]
Costco: $15.60 [Glassdoor]

Average Pay For Low-Level Managerial Position
Walmart: $44,774 [Glassdoor]
Costco: $53,956 [Glassdoor]

Number Of Employees Receiving Health Insurance Coverage
Walmart: "more than half" of employees [Businessweek]
Costco: 88% of employees [Businessweek]


More: Why Is It So Hard To Get An $8 Job At Walmart?

Turnover Rate
Walmart: 37% [self-reported]
Costco: 24% [InvestorPlace]

Position On The Minimum Wage
Walmart: Supported raising the federal minimum wage in 2006, but has remained mum in the recent debate. [NBC News]
Costco: Supports raising the federal minimum wage to over $10-an-hour. CEO Craig Jelinek wrote a letter urging Congress to do so. [The Huffington Post]

Percent Of Workforce That Is Unionized
Walmart: 0 [Reuters]
Costco: 15 [Businessweek]

Opportunity For Advancement
Walmart: "Nearly three-quarters of our store management teams started out in hourly positions." [The Huffington Post]
Costco: 70 percent of warehouse managers allegedly started as cart-pushers and cashiers. On principle, the retailer doesn't hire business school graduates, and instead sponsors its lower-level employees through graduate school. [Businessweek]

CEO Compensation (2012)
Walmart: $19.3 million ($1.3 million salary, $4.4 million bonus, $13.6 million in stock grants) [Businessweek]
Costco: $4.9 million ($650,000 salary, $200,000 bonus, around $4 million in stock options) [Businessweek]

Most Recent Quarterly Year Over Year Earnings
Walmart: Up 1.1% [Wall Street Journal]
Costco: Up 19% [NBC News]

Read the slideshow, "The Most Underpaid Jobs In the United States."

Don't Miss: Companies Hiring Now


Related Stories


Looking for a job? Click here to get started.


Claire Gordon

Staff Writer

Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.

Follow Claire on Twitter. Email Claire at claire.gordon@teamaol.com. Add Claire to your Google+ circles.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

731 Comments

Filter by:
Cheryl Dean

The reason you union lackeys always trash Walmart is because they won't unionize. Why don't you ever say anything about Sears.Macys,Nordstom or hundreds of other companies that don't pay higher salaries to ppl who haven't proved they're worth it? I belong to a union and ppl that ARE lazy pieces of excrement are paid the same as hardworking,honest ppl. There is no incentive for them to try harder.

November 30 2013 at 12:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
deafweekly

I'm not going to read 732 comments to see if anyone already said this, but you made a glaring error by leaving out the most important figure:

Cost to shop at Walmart -- $0 per year
Cost to shop at Costco -- $55 per year

November 29 2013 at 6:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tonyd

i make 18.00 an hour at walmart so you should get your facts straight before talking

August 09 2013 at 1:00 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to tonyd's comment
brookeyborer

LOL NO YOU DONT!!! Not one person gets paid that much unless you do night merch. their cashiers start at 8.50 while Costco actually does pay their employees well. Cashiers start at 18. you will NEVER get that much cashiering at walmart.

November 15 2013 at 1:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lowe

bullshit i started at minimum wage as a cashier which was 7.25 here in arizona. after 2 years i wasn't even making a dollar more then that. after getting injured on the job due to a fork lift malfunction i was out for 3 months and was given a whopping $180 in workmans comp. **** walmart.

November 19 2013 at 8:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
danielkelly.curtis

Now let me think: NO job or a low paying job until I can prove how much of a genius I really am. Of course the union wants you to remain stoopid so they can continue the party in Atlantic City or Vegas. PLAY ON. . .

July 10 2013 at 7:22 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to danielkelly.curtis's comment
lowe

Of course you would argue against the interest of employees who are doing nothing but trying to earn a living wage. do you really that service jobs are employed by just "stupid", "ignorant" or "lazy" people? psshh talk about someone with no life experience. i hate to break the bad news to you .. but the creme doesn't always rise to the top and our economic system guarantees that there will always be the super rich and the super poor .. intelligence isn't the issue here. idiot!

November 19 2013 at 8:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Fred

Costco doesn't smell, Wal Mart does, Costco has employees who will go out of their wy to help you, Wal Mart Employees will cheat and steal (meaning overchare and not correct price differences) from you and ignore you if you want help. Not my Dept, is a common term if you get lucky and can catch one disappering down the aisles. Costco has nice shopping baskets, Wal Mart baskets have wheels that are not made of rubber that shock you going down the aislies and thump and shake to checkout. Costco will always have check out lanes open, I have wal mart on speed dial and will call them and ask if they are going to open more lanes after standing in long lines that have many lanes closed because they are to cheap to hire somebody.

July 10 2013 at 6:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
vcatballou2

Walmart may have started out with low prices on just about anything but in my area of PA I can buy just about anything at shop-rite and other supermarkets at a lower price. There are still few itemsin the supermarket area that walmart beats the competition at but they diminish every week. The company is basically a shell game. I have seen Special "Bins" with merchandise atone price and the same item on the shelf at half again that price. Thier produce is substandard and WAY OVERPRICED. They trained people to believe they ALWAYS saved money shopping in Walmart and now the poor dupes don't even check the prices. Walmart is [in my opinion] one of the biggest con games on the planet

July 10 2013 at 6:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ernest W. Crosby

I would suggest that you let Walmart Withdraw from the Washington D.C. metropolitan District. The stink would follow them everywhere and they would decline as a business. The vacuum created by their departure would be filled by a pletheora of companies willing to enjoy the recognition of being in favor of better working conditions for employees.

July 10 2013 at 3:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joan

if walmart wants to leave usa then i say GO. go to china or where ever but our government needs to have you pay much higher taxes to bring any walmart products back into our country. you corporations are all alike, just like republicans, you want to make the biggest profit off the backs of your under paided employees. WALMART SO UN-AMERICAN

July 10 2013 at 2:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
brendidit

Sounds like Walmarts only concern is the money they will lose out of there pocket. They are not doing us any favor's by giving us a cheap paying job, just to say we have a job. Some other company will gladly jump in and build new stores. Better to stop them now from building and creating new jobs, so it does not affect people who do get hired by them and then they pull out. My husband, after being laid off, worked for a low paying job and it was like not working at all, the gas prices are so high, it took 1/4 of his pay just for gas , 1/4 for lunches for the week and not much left for any bill paying. The low paying jobs can be the easiest to get when needed, but by far is not enough for even paying half your bills.

July 10 2013 at 1:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Antoinette Kincherlo

Karl, I had an Uncle Karl, glad he was a lot more intelligence than u to start with. And i agree the republican party is the new Stupid (really old as well), but everyone who has a low income is not on Section 8, or food stamps or have health care nor collect welfare or have a free phone, tell me where do u or who has a free phone? Haven't u noticed there is really nothing free anymore?

July 10 2013 at 1:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Search Jobs

In Partnership With
Keywords:
Location:

Search Articles

Top Companies Hiring

April 13 - April 20

Looking for work? See what companies added new openings this week.