4 Dollar Store Items Americans Are Purchasing the Most Right Now

Tigard, OR, USA - Aug 10, 2020: A Dollar Tree store in Tigard, Oregon.
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Dollar stores are a mainstay in American life, with a 2020 survey indicating that around 60% of Americans had shopped at a Dollar Tree in the previous 12 months. The two heavyweights in the industry are Dollar General and Dollar Tree, which purchased Family Dollar in 2015. But these true “dollar stores” are also under increasing competition from the likes of Target, Walmart, Ikea and Costco. Despite that, there are still some items shoppers can’t help saving on at dollar stores.

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To determine what Americans are buying at dollar stores, GOBankingRates conducted a survey of 1,037 American adults in early April 2022. Highlights of the results are below, along with advice on what experts say you should and should not be buying at dollar stores.

What Is Most Bought at Dollar Stores?

Purchases made exclusively at dollar stores, as opposed to the other options such as Costco and Ikea, are diversified. Food was the most common response, at 24%, followed closely by personal care items, at 22%. Party supplies and home goods ranked highly as well, pulling in 17% and 15% of the vote, respectively. 

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What Is Least Bought at Dollar Stores?

The clear losers when it comes to items bought at dollar stores are kitchen appliances and apparel. As kitchen appliances are often high-dollar items, it makes sense that more consumers would use big-box stores like Costco for those types of purchases. Apparel, however, seems like it would be a good fit for a dollar store purchase, but it only generated about 4% of the vote. 

What Should You Really Be Buying at Dollar Stores?

Dollar stores offer lots of low-cost merchandise, but some deals stand out more than others. While you can get equal or lower prices on some items at other stores, dollar stores shine in certain particular areas. According to experts, these are typically some of the best things to buy at a dollar store.

Greeting Cards

Dollar stores might not offer the widest variety of choices when it comes to greeting cards, but you can’t beat the price. Greeting cards at drugstores and other retailers commonly top $5 each, far more than you’ll pay at a dollar store.

Picture Frames

Unless you’re looking for a fancy embossed frame to house your new Monet, dollar stores offer perfectly functional frames for much lower prices than at other outlets. 

Picnic and Party Supplies

Dollar stores are perfect outlets for one-time events, such as picnics and parties. As you won’t need your products to last more than one time, you don’t have to spend the money to invest in more durable items. Just be sure that you buy enough, as dollar store per-pack quantities are often small.

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What Should You Avoid Buying at Dollar Stores?

Human nature dictates that we seek out the cheapest price for items we want to buy. However, sometimes price isn’t everything. Although low prices can be found at dollar stores, sometimes the items offered are of lower quality or nearing their expiration dates. For this reason, experts advise that you shouldn’t simply buy everything you need at a dollar store. These items in particular have been noted by experts as things to avoid at dollar stores.


Most dollar store batteries are carbon-zinc instead of alkaline. Although the price is right, you’ll likely have to replace those batteries very frequently. Carbon-zinc batteries can also be damaging to devices if they leak.

Beauty Products

Beauty products at dollar stores are often old or of lower quality. Unless you can find some marked-down name brands, it’s best to skip the beauty aisle, especially in the case of SPF products, which may no longer provide the protection you need.

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When you buy a tool, you need it to be durable to handle heavy impacts and strong forces. Dollar store tools typically can’t cope.

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About the Author

After earning a B.A. in English with a Specialization in Business from UCLA, John Csiszar worked in the financial services industry as a registered representative for 18 years. Along the way, Csiszar earned both Certified Financial Planner and Registered Investment Adviser designations, in addition to being licensed as a life agent, while working for both a major Wall Street wirehouse and for his own investment advisory firm. During his time as an advisor, Csiszar managed over $100 million in client assets while providing individualized investment plans for hundreds of clients.
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