Which Is Better for Your Wallet: Dollar Tree or Family Dollar?

Dollar Tree will be closing 390 Family Dollar Stores
Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com

As inflation continues to gouge prices around the country, people are feeling the pinch in their budgets and strategizing which places to shop for the best deals.

For certain items, from household goods to art supplies and even food, The Dollar Store and Family Dollar have long been affordable sources of necessities. But what’s the difference between these stores? Can you actually get a better deal at one over the other? With the help of several experts, we took a look at three main categories: Price, selection and location.

Good Question: Should You Buy Groceries at the Dollar Store?
More Advice: 21 Dollar Store Items That Give You the Best Bang for Your Buck

Price

What many people don’t know is that Dollar Tree actually acquired Family Dollar stores in 2015, so, “with both stores functioning under the same family, there aren’t any shocking pricing discrepancies between the two,” said Nick Drewe, CEO of Wethrift, an eCommerce platform devoted to consumer savings online.

Make Your Money Work for You

However, there are still some differences. The most notable is that Dollar Tree threatened its own name by recently pricing items higher than its standard $1 promise, as well as adding $3 to $5 items, both in an attempt to combat inflation, Drewe pointed out.

“Family Dollar has a leg up on Dollar Tree, where generic brands are the norm,” Drewe said. “And it’s also worth noting that Dollar Tree has historically kept items at $1 or below by offering certain products in smaller sizes, such as a single roll of toilet paper or smaller bottles of detergent. So, for those looking to buy in regular quantities, Family Dollar offers more efficiency in that regard and can end up being less expensive than having to buy multiple smaller versions.”

Discover: 34 Dollar Store Secrets You Need To Know Before You Shop

The blogger The Penny Hoarder did a price comparison in 2021 among Dollar Tree, Dollar General and Family Dollar, and found that Family Dollar came out on top for slightly lower prices for such categories as toilet paper, body wash, canned vegetables, pasta, laundry detergent, coffee and cereal. Brand-name items were slightly cheaper at Family Dollar as well. This was the same conclusion reached by ABC affiliate WCPO in a comparison of three dollar store chains, including Dollar General.

Make Your Money Work for You

Selection

When it comes to what is better for your wallet, the answer may not be not so clear-cut, according to Jane Kallinger of SewingFromHome.com. The blogger and crafter shops for many of her materials at these stores on a regular basis.

In her experience, “Dollar Tree offers a wider variety of products for a single dollar, while Family Dollar has a more limited selection but often offers sales and discounts.”

However, Kallinger pointed out that Family Dollar also has a loyalty program that can give customers extra savings, and it offers coupons through its app.

“Ultimately,” she said, “which store is better for your wallet depends on what you are looking for and how much you are willing to spend.”

Related: 10 Things You Always (and Never) Should Buy at the Dollar Store

For her purposes, both Dollar Tree and Family Dollar offer significant savings opportunities on craft items.

“However, Family Dollar offers a wider variety of items, including higher-end crafts that can be used for more sophisticated projects,” she said. “Additionally, Family Dollar often has sales on craft items, while Dollar Tree does not. Therefore, for those looking for the best deals on craft supplies, Family Dollar is the better option.”

Make Your Money Work for You

Location

While a couple of Dollar Tree locations may not represent the whole, Business Insider toured Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores to compare selection and layout and location details.

The Dollar Tree stores were often messy, with sloppy displays and crowded with unpacked boxes in the aisles that made it hard to walk by. Family Dollar was similarly messy, though less so than the Dollar Tree, and they found more items priced over $1 there (this was 2019, before Dollar Tree began raising prices).

Kallinger said the kinds of available items can vary by location.

And now, trying out a new strategy, the parent company has opened 300 combo Family Dollar/Dollar Tree locations in case you want to comparison shop at the same location.

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About the Author

Jordan Rosenfeld is a freelance writer and author of nine books. She holds a B.A. from Sonoma State University and an MFA from Bennington College. Her articles and essays about finances and other topics has appeared in a wide range of publications and clients, including The Atlantic, The Billfold, Good Magazine, GoBanking Rates, Daily Worth, Quartz, Medical Economics, The New York Times, Ozy, Paypal, The Washington Post and for numerous business clients. As someone who had to learn many of her lessons about money the hard way, she enjoys writing about personal finance to empower and educate people on how to make the most of what they have and live a better quality of life.

 

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