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Exterior photos of the Target Canada in Guelph Ontario Monday, March 4, 2013.Tim Fraser/The Globe and Mail

Prices at U.S. discounter Target Corp.'s new stores in Canada are just 0.2 per cent higher than those at Wal-Mart Canada Corp., a survey in early March says.

The survey, by Boston-based consultancy Kantar Retail, found that Target's grocery prices are 8.6 per cent higher than those at Wal-Mart, but Target's non-food/household goods are 3.3 per cent lower than those at Wal-Mart and 2.8 per cent lower among health and beauty products.

Overall, the basket of 29 goods cost $124.02 at Wal-Mart and $124.23 at Target, the survey found.

"The retailers' baskets were very competitive," the study says. "We found that the price of Target Canada's overall basket was within 25 cents of Wal-Mart's."

The study was conducted in early March, when Target just started to open its stores in Canada. It launched its first three outlets on March 5, 17 more on March 19 and four on March 28. On Friday, it officially opened all 24.

A survey commissioned for The Globe and Mail this week found that Target prices were 1.16 per cent higher than Wal-Mart, on a basket of 13 food, household and beauty products, and as much as 8 per cent higher when one particular item was dropped.

Jeff Doucette, general manager of mobile research firm Field Agent Canada – which conducted the survey for the Globe – said the results of the Kantar study "look pretty consistent" with his survey although Kantar's basket was bigger.

"In the end it is early and I think that Target will be sharper with price checking and better match on an item level where it is important in their business," Mr. Doucette said. "It is still very early days."

He said Kantar has done work with Target in the past. Kantar did not reply to a question about whether it worked for Target, although Target Canada spokeswoman Lisa Gibson said the study was not commissioned for the retailer.

Kantar said that if a shopper had used Target's REDcard rewards debit or credit card, which provides a 5 per cent discount off almost all purchases, the basket at Target would have been 4.8 per cent less expensive than the one at Wal-Mart.

About 44,000 Canadians carry a Canadian-issued REDcard, Target Canada president Tony Fisher said last week. In early 2011, when Target first announced it was coming to Canada, about 30,000 Canadians held a Target REDcard credit or debit card, which gives them 5 per cent off almost all purchases online and in U.S. stores.

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