What is Rollback at Walmart? (It is Not Clearance)

Walmart is the most popular department store in America for good reason. It is a combination of product availability, low prices, and fast service has helped it to explode across the country. Today, Walmart shows no signs of slowing down even in the age of online purchasing.

One big reason for this is the famous Walmart rollback. The rollback has been one of the most successful marketing tools. Walmart Rollback allows the company to sell considerably more items and move merchandise even during slow times.

The rollbacks can be found on different items in each Walmart store. However, the number is usually limited to help highlight the price of a specific item. So what is Walmart Rollback?

Walmart rollback means the price of an item is rolled back to old prices. It sounds attractive because the rollback price is cheaper than the regular price. Walmart rollback is a marketing strategy to reduce the price of an item to boost sales. The price drop is temporary and Walmart will restock, whereas clearance is a permanent price drop with limited inventory.

Walmart rollback can be a win-win-win situation:

  • Vendors Win: Walmart help vendors eliminate overstocked items by promoting Rollback prices to attract buyers.
  • Customers Win: Customers can get a deal on items they want. Rollback prices are even lower than Walmart’s “every day low price”.
  • Walmart Win: Walmart will sell more products faster and gain more customers, which result in making more money.

Rollback normally starts with 1-2 weeks, and typically last up to 90 days. If the rollback item slowly starting to sell, the price will typically increase back to full price over time. Some of the possible reasons for rollback can be:

  • Overpriced items: products do not meet the competitive market price
  • Overstock items: item sells exceptionally slower than expected
  • Outdated items: newer version of the item is arriving soon

If the rollback items does not move for a long time, Walmart will eventually determine it to be end of life product and will substantially drop the price amount, and convert it to a clearance sale.

Walmart Rollback vs Clearance

Walmart Rollback
  • Price drop is temporary
  • Walmart will restock
  • Shelf tag is white/red/orange
Walmart Clearance
  • Limited inventory
  • Walmart will not restock
  • Yellow sticker on the item

The intention of a clearance sale is to sell all the items in stock. This is normally done when a new item is planned to replace it. The new item may be an upgrade to the old item or an item from another brand or company.

Using the paper towel example, if Walmart acquired a new brand for paper towels to sell on their shelves and the old item is no longer under contract, then they would lower the price of the old item to clear it out of their inventory. That is a clearance sale.

Here is an example of what Walmart rollback on groceries and electronics look like:

A rollback has nothing to do with a clearance sale as the intention is not to sell the item out. But rather to encourage impulse shopping for the item. Usually, a rollback sale will have plenty of the items available in stock at the store or at the distribution center which quickly restocks the item once it has been depleted.

It is possible that if the item does go out of stock, the rollback will end. However, in most cases the rollback ends when it is deemed that the impulse period for buying is over.

A rollback should not be confused with a sale item that is new to the store, although it amounts to the same thing in terms of a price reduction. Many new items will start at a lower price to attract more interest which is what a rollback does for items that have been around for many years.

Items Qualified for Walmart Rollback

Any item that has been sold at Walmart for several years can be qualified for Walmart Rollback. And, an item that is subject to impulse purchases. It may also be an item that is out of season or perhaps not moving off the shelves as fast as Walmart would like.

From common household items such as paper towels up to electronics such as television sets, the rollback is a sales tool that is quite effective at moving products off the shelves. While it is true that Walmart loses money on the rollback compared to the original price, more items sell than if they had kept the price the same.

A rollback will vary depending on the item and the intention of the Walmart management. In most cases, a rollback will last from four to ten weeks. This can change depending on several circumstances which are mostly focused on the availability of the item.

In other words, if the item sells out quickly, then the rollback may end. Otherwise, the rollback will still end at a pre-set time. Since the purpose of the rollback is to cause an impulse purchase, the length of time for the rollback is limited. This is because once a certain time has passed, most everyone who would’ve purchased the item at the lower price would have done so.

Can You Return Rollback Items at Walmart?

Yes, you can return rollback items. According to Walmart’s return policy, you can return your normal purchases, rollback items, and clearance items with or without the receipt, for any reason as long as it is within the 90-day timeframe.

Because rollback item remains in stock, this means that you can return it just like you can any item in the store and get your purchase price back.

However, you cannot get more than your purchase price back. So, do not expect to return an item after the rollback has been completed and get the full purchase price. You will have to live with the lower amount that you originally paid.

Related: How to Return Items to Walmart with or without Receipt

Will Walmart Keep Rollbacks?

Walmart rollback have been a very successfully marketing strategy and Walmart will absolutely keep rollbacks for many more years to come. When you consider how effective it has been, the rollback will continue to be used for different items depending on their impulse purchase potential.

The famous Walmart rollback continues to be a staple of marketing for their stores. Because it is so effective in selling items, especially those that may be out of season, you can expect it to continue for the foreseeable future at Walmart.

Walmart rollback is effective for Walmart because they are a department store with many different types of items. This means that a person who is shopping for one type of item, such as groceries for example, may see a rollback on an automotive item, such as oil or radiator fluid.

The lower price and the limited time that it will be available at such a price will spur an impulse purchase. This is because most shoppers are not thinking about every item that they need or want when they walk into the store. Seeing the rollback price encourages them to buy it now and save money compared to waiting until later.

This is something that the retail giant Amazon does not have, and it gives Walmart an edge of seizing those smart shoppers that are constantly looking for a good deal before purchasing.

Related: Walmart Plus vs Amazon Prime Comparison