Woman shopping for sunglasses RSnHkOr.width .jpg

Dollar Tree vs. Dollar General: Which Is Better?

Woman shopping for sunglasses

Image source: Getty Images

Dollar stores have exploded in popularity in recent years as hard-up shoppers look for ways to shave their grocery bills in the face of skyrocketing prices. We compared two of the biggest names in dollar store shopping, Dollar General and Dollar Tree (which includes Dollar Tree and Family Dollar). Read on to find out which one came out on top.

Dollar Tree: More items that cost around $1

The dollar store concept started in the 1950s with a premise that no item would cost more than $1. Even before the sky-high inflation of recent years, that idea had started to become unfeasible — Dollar General pulled away from the $1 price point decades ago. This means it now has a wider range of products at budget prices, even though things often cost more than $1.

In contrast, Dollar Tree stuck to its guns and only pushed its prices up to $1.25 at the end of 2021. It’s now experimenting with other prices. This includes taking some items back to $1 while also selling products at $3, $4, and $5. In time, the higher price points will mean it can expand its range, but it’s not there yet.

Here’s the thing. Just because something costs $1 (or $1.25), it doesn’t automatically make it a good value. Sometimes it is, but you’ll only know if you look at the price per ounce or per fluid ounce. For example, Dollar Tree’s 8 fluid ounce bottle of Tide laundry detergent costs $1.25, which is $0.16 per fluid ounce. Dollar General sells a 115 fluid ounce bottle at $15.95, which is $0.14 per fluid ounce. It’s a different story if you only have $1 to spend, but often a bigger package works out cheaper in the long run.

Dollar General: Partnership with Ibotta

Most dollar stores accept coupons and you can also use cash back apps to get rewards on your spending, though the specifics vary from store to store. For sure, you can use Ibotta at both Dollar General and Dollar Tree. But Dollar General now has a specific partnership with Ibotta that lets customers earn cash back in their Dollar General Wallet.

Stacking coupons, cash back app rewards, and in-store discounts can be an amazing way to score big savings. Check the small print and the store’s rules as you can’t always use, say, a coupon and a cash back bonus for the same product. But when you can, it means more money in your bank account for other things.

Dollar Tree: More stores selling fresh produce

Dollar stores don’t have a great reputation when it comes to selling fresh produce, but that is starting to change. Being able to buy fresh produce in a dollar store is a big deal if that’s the only store you’re able to get to easily. As such, it’s great to see both Dollar Tree and Dollar General expanding their fruit and vegetable options.

Dollar General introduced its DG Fresh program in 2019 and has continued to expand its fruit and vegetable offerings since then. Dollar Tree piloted fresh produce a few years later, and has been aggressively growing its frozen and refrigerated options in recent years. In its most recent earnings call, Dollar Tree said its frozen and refrigerated product ranges — which include fresh produce — are now available in nearly 5,600 stores, which is about a third of the total number of Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores combined.

Dollar General currently sells fresh produce in about 20% of its stores and its website says it has plans to significantly increase this number. Right now, about 3,900 Dollar General stores sell produce such as lettuce, tomatoes, onions, apples, and potatoes. In the next few years it plans to make produce available in as many as 10,000 stores.

Dollar General: Excellent online experience

When it comes to shopping online, Dollar General is far superior to Dollar Tree. It has a broad range of products, digital coupons, and the site is super easy to use. In contrast, when you shop with Dollar Tree online, you often have to buy a whole box or case. That might mean buying 12 jars of peanut butter or 24 tins of ground black pepper. It’s possible to buy some items in smaller quantities, but on the whole you’re stuck with boxes.

Ultimately, bulk-buying does not make sense at Dollar Tree. If we go back to the example of 8 fluid ounce bottles of Tide laundry detergent, a case of 12 would set you back $15. You’d get 96 fluid ounces in total. For $15.95, you could get one big 115 fluid ounce bottle at Dollar General, which would be better for the environment and your wallet.

Bottom line: Dollar General is better than Dollar Tree

A lot depends on your shopping habits and, in some cases, which store is closest. But, for me, Dollar General’s wider range of products combined with a much stronger online store put it ahead of Dollar Tree. Whichever one you shop at, be sure to carefully compare prices and use coupons and apps for extra savings. Having “dollar” in the store name doesn’t always make it the lowest-cost option.

Alert: highest cash back card we’ve seen now has 0% intro APR until nearly 2025

If you’re using the wrong credit or debit card, it could be costing you serious money. Our experts love this top pick, which features a 0% intro APR for 15 months, an insane cash back rate of up to 5%, and all somehow for no annual fee.

In fact, this card is so good that our experts even use it personally. Click here to read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes.

Read our free review

We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers.
The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.Emma Newbery has positions in Apple. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts
KiBbbc.width .png
Read More

Is It Worth It to Buy Gift Cards at Costco?

Did you know Costco sells gift cards? Members can save money by purchasing them at their local club or Costco.com. Find out if this is a good Costco buy.