Do Dollar Stores Always Offer The Best Deal?

The allure of the dollar store for some shoppers is the idea that they will save money compared to what they would spend going to another retailer. But that may not always be the case, especially if you’re buying larger sizes of some products.

The Houston Chronicle’s Frugal Confessions blog did some quick comparison shopping on a list of 15 items at three different stores — a 99 cent store, a Family Dollar, and unnamed non-dollar store retailer.

Covering everything from beer to cat food to dish soap to aluminum foil, the test found that the non-dollar store actually had the lowest unit prices on one out of three items.

For example, while you only pay $1.00 for Palmolive at the 99 cent store, you’re only buying an 8 oz. bottle, meaning you pay $.125/oz. But the non-dollar store’s 25 oz. bottle at $2.64 has a unit price of only $.106/oz.

Same goes for Reynolds aluminum foil. That $1.00 at the 99 cent store only gets you 18 square feet. The non-dollar store will cost more than three times that ($3.29) but provides you with 75 square feet.

Oddly enough, Family Dollar’s roll of Reynolds offered more foil (45 square feet) but had a higher unit price ($.07/sq. ft) than either the 99 cent store ($.055) or the non-dollar store ($.044).

In fact, Family Dollar only had one item — dry cat food — with a lower unit price than the other stores.

While this study is admittedly not very scientific, it is a reminder that unit price — especially for non-perishable goods — should be kept in mind when looking for the best value.

Do Dollar Stores Offer Better Cost Per Unit than Non-Dollar Stores? [Chron.com]