Although the rate of inflation has subsided a bit in recent months, prices remain nearly 5 percent higher than they were a year ago. Many consumers are looking for ways to stretch their paycheck, including frequenting different types of stores and being strategic about their purchases.
Oftentimes that means making a visit to a dollar store, such as Dollar Tree, Dollar General or Family Dollar to pick up some necessities. Consumers are shopping more frequently at dollar stores — there are more than 35,000 locations nationwide — with the increase slightly higher among high-income shoppers, according to data from Numerator.
“The dollar retail channel is having its moment,” says Brad Godwin, SVP, head of CPG/Retail partnerships at Shopkick. “If you haven’t been there in a while, it might be time to give it a shot. You might be surprised at the value there.”
Shopping experts say that visiting dollar stores and other such discounters can be a smart strategy, but some buys at dollar stores are better than others.
“There is so much value at dollar stores, especially when you need to bulk-buy things, such as for a party or a classroom,” says Kimberly Palmer, a spokesperson with personal finance website Nerdwallet. “They serve a great purpose, and you can get great deals there in certain categories.”
Keep these do’s and don’ts in mind for your next dollar store shopping trip:
1. Do expect to find items that cost more than a dollar
Although dollar stores still have great deals, inflation has forced them to raise their prices along with most other retailers. Last year, for example, most Dollar Tree stores raised their base price on many items to $1.25. The chain has also recently introduced its Dollar Tree “Plus” store format, which features items priced at $3 and $5.
2. Don’t purchase items that need to last
Dollar stores keep prices low by selling items that aren’t built to last or for multiple uses. So, it’s a great place to stock up on items like seasonal decor, paper goods or office products. But you may want to avoid picking up tech items or fragile goods with multiple parts.
“It’s really good to shop at dollar stores when quality doesn’t matter but quantity does,” Palmer says.
3. Do use coupons and cash back
All three of the large dollar stores accept both manufacturer’s coupons and their own store coupons. You can get additional savings by using a rewards credit card or sending your receipt to a rewards app like Shopkick or Fetch.
The large dollar stores also have their own apps that highlight sales and provide additional coupons for users.