Are discount stores really cheaper?

Are discount stores, like Dollar General, really cheaper? A surprising comparison.

I live in a small town. A small town. There is one small, locally-owned, largely-overpriced grocery store, and there is a Dollar General. In the last month, crews have broken ground to build both a Fred’s Super Dollar and a Family Dollar.

With the closest Walmart fifteen miles away in the next town, it makes sense for me to do as much as grocery shopping as possible at one of these local stores. But as someone who is constantly aware of my family’s budget and the price of the items we’re buying, I want to make sure I’m not trading money and quality for time and convenience.

I scoped out the aisles of my local Dollar General and was surprised to find that many products were significantly more expensive than at Walmart.

Here’s what I found:

1. Cream Cheese

Are discount stores like Dollar General really cheaper? Surprising comparisons.

Name brand cream cheese at Dollar General costs $.87. I typically buy a store brand of cream cheese, which Dollar General doesn’t carry; in that case, the savings would be even more significant.

2. Party Pizzas

Are discount stores like Dollar General really cheaper? Surprising comparisons.

These small pizzas are $.39 more expensive at Dollar General. We don’t buy these pizzas, but I know that the people who do rarely purchase just one.

3. Shampoo and Conditioner

Are discount stores like Dollar General really cheaper? Surprising comparisons.

Herbal Essences shampoo and conditioner cost $.50 more at Dollar General; if you buy a bottle of each, that’s $1.

4. Spices

Are discount stores like Dollar General really cheaper? Surprising comparisons.

Spices at Dollar General cost $.50 more than at Walmart- that’s twice as much! Of course, Walmart doesn’t offer all of their spices for that price, but they have several, including many popular ones like cinnamon, chili powder, and Italian seasoning.

5. Granola Bars

Are discount stores like Dollar General really cheaper? Surprising comparisons.

I know the products shown aren’t of the same variety of granola bar, but Walmart was out of their Oats & Chocolate on the day I was there. The prices are still accurate, though, so the Dollar General bars are $.25 more per box.

While none of these price differences are staggering, they still provide food- haha, food- for thought. Imagine I go to Dollar General and buy two of everything pictured: two bricks of cream cheese, two party pizzas, a bottle of shampoo and a bottle of conditioner, two bottles of spices, and two boxes of granola bars.

If I only purchase two of everything pictured above, I will have paid $.5.02 more than if I’d made the same purchases at Walmart. In our house, $5 is a significant amount.

Keep in mind that these prices vary by region, but the idea is the same. Just because an item sits on the shelf at a discount store does not mean it’s always going to be less expensive than at a larger chain. The key is to be aware of what things cost to avoid overpaying.

Are you discount store loyal? Don’t worry, I’ll soon be sharing a few of the items that are less expensive at Dollar General.

I want to know: what items have you found to be more expensive at Dollar General, or your local chain discount store?

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About Abby

I'm a wife, a mom of two, and a high school teacher who loves to read, bake, cook, and be with my family.
This entry was posted in Frugal Living, Tips & Tricks. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Are discount stores really cheaper?

  1. Mrs. Tucker says:

    Ha! I have often said that the dollar stores aren’t all about the savings…there’s some crafty marketing going on too. Great post!

  2. Thank you for sharing this post with my link party. I am NOT a fan of these so-called discount stores, for this very reason! Granted, sometimes you can find cute containers and craft-type items in there… but their food deals are usually horrible. And I’d be very reluctant to buy anything that actually comes in contact with food at a discount store, because their suppliers are primarily China and Taiwan, both places which are notorious for using things banned here, and for that reason are often recalled. Yet, oddly, you’ll rarely see Dollar General or similar places actually notifying customers about such recalls. Shifty. Shifty. Shifty.

  3. realcoake says:

    Great comparison! Who would have thought that the dollar store would be more expenisve? I never shop there for food or much of anything, but it is good to know. I am also one who compares prices and $5 does make a big difference in our food budget.
    Thanks so much for linking up at the Real Family Fun link party! Hope to see you next week.
    KC

  4. Melissa says:

    I rarely shop at dollar stores (other than Dollar tree for crafty things). I usually do all my shopping at Dillons (Krogers). Even then Wal-Mart is usually sometimes cheaper but walmart drives me crazy. It’s always so crowded. I try to shop the sales at Dillons otherwise you will spend a pretty penny over what you could spend at Walmart. So with the sales and double coupons they offer it usually works out pretty good. That way I also get what I need (food mainly) instead of adding in 10 other things non perishable that I rounded up at walmart too. It happens every time for me. haha

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