Yes, you can save money at dollar stores, Consumer Reports finds

Limited selection means you should be flexible, shop with a strategy

A lot of people shop dollar stores for the low prices and convenience, but are they really getting a deal?

SAN ANTONIO – If it seems like there’s a dollar store on every corner, it’s no wonder. Four out of 10 store openings this year are expected to be dollar stores.

“Believe it or not, dollar stores outnumber Starbucks and McDonald’s combined, and more are coming,” said Consumer Reports’ Brian Vines.

Credit their popularity. According to a Consumer Reports survey, 88% of Americans questioned said they shop at a dollar stores at least some times.

Why? They’re inexpensive and convenient were the most common reasons.

But, are they really money savers?

Consumer Reports did a lot of shopping over six months and found the answer is yes, but with a caveat.

“In our investigation, the dollar stores, when compared to nearby grocery stores, were indeed cheapest for an entire purchase for each of our shoppers,” Vines said. “But, even though you might save more money at a dollar store, your options for each item could be pretty limited.”

So, it pays to be flexible and shop with a strategy, knowing what to buy and what to skip.

“Not many dollar stores carry fresh fruit and vegetables, but they often stock frozen versions of each, which can be as nutritious,” Vines said.

In the over-the-counter medication aisle, he advises skipping the name brands like Advil and Tylenol and going for the generics. Always check expiration dates no matter where you shop.

Consumer Reports found that you may be able to get many dollar store products cheaper in bulk at big box stores. But, in a pinch, or if you just need a little, Consumer Reports found that dollar store offerings usually are a good bet.

Supply chain issues affecting so many businesses are also impacting dollar stores. So don’t be surprised to see some random empty spaces on shelves.

About the Author:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.