Target (TGT) has gained a loyal following for its combination of low prices and stylish designs, but in some cases shoppers might be better off shopping elsewhere.
There are still plenty of categories where shoppers can find good deals, according to research from Internet shopping site Ben's Bargains. While Target shoppers tend to be wealthier than people who browse at rivals such as Kmart or Walmart, price is still important to many consumers who walk through Target's doors. The popularity of its Cartwheel coupon app illustrates that Target's consumers aren't immune to a good deal.
"For the most part it's not like you're going to get completely ripped off at Target on anything but there are categories where you can definitely find a better deal elsewhere," said Kristin Cook, managing editor of Ben's Bargains.
The typical Target shopper has median household income of $64,000 -- higher than the overall U.S. median household income of $53,657.
Cook added, "It's just being smart about where you buy certain things and knowing that one store isn't going to be best for everything on your list. Target is great for some things and not great for others."
Read on to learn about the 5 best and worst things to buy at Target.
Target is especially strong on toy pricing during the holiday season, with November and December typically offering good deals, Ben's Bargains found.
But the store offers $10 off coupons for $50 purchases every few months, while the Cartwheel app also often has offers on popular toys for as much as 40 percent to 50 percent off. Clearance sales at the end of seasons -- such as the post-holiday period in January -- can also be a good time to search for toy discounts.
"Especially around the holidays, they were far and above the strongest retailer" for discounts, Cook said.
Super Target stores are often more competitive than grocery stores for pantry items, while Target store brands such as Market Pantry and Archer Farms offer good deals and quality, Ben's Bargains found. Cartwheel also offers discounts on some groceries, and the chain also sometimes has paper coupons for $10 off a $50 purchase.
Still, Cook cautions that Target generally doesn't provide the same type of selection for produce as other stores. She notes that she tends to shop at Target for good prices on pantry items, while saving produce shopping for the grocery store.
Best: Home goods/furniture
Target often offers sales codes for furniture and home decor items, while $5 off coupons for $50 purchases are also sometimes available. While Target's furniture might not be high-end quality, the store's low prices can make sense for certain buyers, such as young families or price-conscious renters and home buyers.
"You can get good deals on Ikea-level furniture," Cook says.
Best: Video games and Blu-rays
Target often runs buy-one-get-one free promotions on video games, especially close to the holidays, Ben's Bargains said. It's also possible to find buy-two, get-one free games for certain game consoles. Similar deals are sometimes offered for Blu-ray movies, the site said.
Best: Household essentials
Looking for basics like paper towels and diapers? Then Target may be a good bet, given that the store often hands out $5 or $10 gift cards when shoppers buy certain items. On top of that, Target's subscription program -- which offers free shipping and a 5 percent discount on household basics -- is another way to save.
Worst: TVs and other electronics
Other than Black Friday and sales in November, shoppers are better off looking elsewhere for TVs and electronics. Ben's Bargains notes that Target tends to sell off-brand TVs, while Best Buy or eBay often offer better prices.
"For the most part, year-round they don't have that great of deals on electronics," Cook says. "You can always get that stuff cheaper online."
Worst: Mobile accessories
Accessories for smartphones and other devices are hardly ever on sale at Target, and shoppers picking up a charger or iPhone cover are going to pay for the convenience, Ben's Bargains said. EBay or Amazon might provide better prices and options, Cook says.
Worst: Craft and party supplies
Target recently started selling craft supplies, and while Cook says the quality is good, better prices can be found at stores like Michael's. As for party supplies, consumers might be better off checking out dollar stores for better prices.
Target's craft line is "expensive for what it is," Cook said. "Jo-Ann Fabric and Michaels always have 40 to 50 percent off coupons, which you can Google for while you're in line."
Worst: Gift cards
As with craft supplies, shoppers will end up paying for convenience when it comes to gift cards at Target. Better deals can be found at eBay or a gift card reseller such as Raise, where discounts of 5 percent to 20 percent can be found, Ben's Bargains said.
"You aren't getting ripped of, but if you want a deal, you can get them elsewhere," Cook noted.
Target's shoes may provide snappier designs than rivals such as Walmart, but they are pricey for the quality, Ben's Bargains said.
"Fake leather sandals are $20 to $25" at Target, Cook said. "You can go to Macy's to get something that looks the same but that's a quality brand for the same price."