Dos and don’ts of dollar store shopping

While the cost of groceries and other items have been on the rise throughout the U.S., some shoppers are taking to dollar stores as a more cost-effective shopping destination — but there’s a catch: Not everything at the discount store is a good buy.

Still, there are lots of inexpensive products at dollar stores that make shopping there worth it, and most Americans are doing it.

Consumer Reports says that nine out of 10 people shop at dollar stores at least a few times a year. Shoppers reportedly visit these stores because they are convenient, less expensive and they enjoy the browsing.

According to Consumer Reports, good buys at dollar stores include frozen fruits and vegetables and healthy snacks like unsalted nuts, sunflower seeds and dried fruit. Experts say to skip the junk food. Those looking for milk and eggs at dollar stores should be sure to check the sell-by date on the packaging.


Consumer Reports recommends that shoppers avoid buying processed meals because they can be high in sodium and added sugar, but these stores can be a great source for dried or canned beans, brown rice pastas and spices.

Related: How to save money on groceries as prices jump

Dollar stores are also an option for household goods like paper towels, toilet paper and cleaners. However, some of these items could be cheaper if purchased in bulk at big box stores.

Items like soap, shampoo and toothpaste will be offered at a good price, but money-saving expert Andrew Woroch says to beware of the smaller packaging sizes.

“The dollar store will have a smaller shampoo, a smaller lotion, and yes, the name brands look great — but if you run the numbers, you can actually save more by going to a big box store,” Woroch said.


Woroch says dollar stores are great for school supplies, decorations and party supplies. The stores also usually have a good selection of inexpensive gift wrap, tissue paper and gift bags.

Consumers are encouraged to avoid buying knives, because they’re often dull, oven mitts, because they’re too thin, and anything in the electronics section.

“Beware of electronics or batteries,” Woroch said. “Cheap batteries can leak and they can actually damage your electronic or toy that you’re using those batteries for. Things like HDMI cables or power strips … they can break and then actually cause damage to whatever you’re logging in with … you don’t want to do that.”

When it comes to the kids, buying books and coloring books from the dollar store is usually a safe bet. But when it comes to toys available for a dollar, some experts say they can be cheaply made and break easily.

Even though dollar stores are becoming a popular option amid the rising consumer prices, even the discount stores are raising their prices.


Products at Dollar Tree have been available for one dollar or less, but this fall, some stores will be testing price points that are higher than a dollar. Stores like Dollar General and Family Dollar both already sell items for more than a dollar.

Watch the full report in the video above.

Read: Dollar Tree breaks the $1 barrier as costs take a bite

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