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Dollar Tree vs. Dollar General: Experts Say One Is Clearly Better

From the amount of brand names to locations, here's how the two bargain retailers stack up.

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We all have our preferences when it comes to shopping, including at bargain stores like Dollar Tree and Dollar General. The low-cost retailers can both be a seriously helpful resource for consumers on a budget, providing everything from groceries and household essentials to toiletries and apparel. But while the two competitors may seem similar, we asked experts about the differences between them that might make one more appealing than the other. Read on for their thoughts on Dollar Tree versus Dollar General and which one they say is clearly better.

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Dollar General has more locations.

Dollar General Retail Location. Dollar General is a small box discount retailer.

Even when you're willing to travel a little further to save some money, convenience can make a huge difference. And when it comes to straight-up store count, one dollar store is the clear winner.

"Dollar Tree and Family Dollar combined have about 16,000 locations in 48 states and five provinces in Canada," Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with, tells Best Life. "However, Dollar General reportedly has more than 19,000 stores in 47 states."

"Granted, Dollar Tree may be easier to find depending on your location, but Dollar General has things like its DGX concept stores that are often found in urban areas and can provide much-needed variety in a food desert," she adds.

Dollar General has had less concerning recalls.

dollar general shopping cart

Most major retailers have to contend with a product recall at some point. In most cases, it's often the result of a production mishap that makes an item on the shelf unsafe for the public. But recently, one of the bargain stores has been scrutinized after inspectors found evidence of horrifying conditions at a distribution center.

"Last year, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar came under fire for rat infestations at their facilities. Meanwhile, Dollar General's recalls have totaled about 12 since roughly 2008 and often included things that aren't concerning to the population at large," says Ramhold. "For example, one was for an undissolved ingredient in a baby product that might cause issues for those sensitive to swallowing but wasn't actually harmful, while another product was due to undeclared allergens like milk and tree nuts."

"While both of those are obviously concerning for people that can be affected, they're probably a lot less concerning than a rat infestation that includes live and dead rodents being found in facilities, rat excrement, evidence of nests, and even evidence of rats chewing on food packaging," she said.

Ramhold adds that while Dollar General has had products recalled due to health and safety issues like suspected presence of plastic, "overall they seem to have a cleaner track record than Dollar Tree and Family Dollar."

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Dollar General usually has more recognized name brands.

customers walking out of dollar general
Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock

It can be hard to settle for a substitute for one of your favorite brands, even if you're shopping on a budget. Customers concerned with getting the products they prefer can count on one dollar store to come through more often.

"When it comes to shopping for name brands, Dollar General has a bigger selection of everything from groceries to toys to cleaning supplies," says Ramhold. "So if you're brand-loyal, it's a good way to shop for names you recognize and trust at somewhat cheaper prices."

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Dollar General has unique collections of higher-quality items.

Dollar General Retail Location. Dollar General is a Small-Box Discount Retailer.

What a store carries in its regular inventory is typically what makes or breaks it for most shoppers. But any retailer that carries in-house products that hit the mark can seriously set itself apart—and experts say this still applies to bargain stores.

"What I really appreciate about Dollar General is that they have begun introducing exclusive branded collections," says shopping expert Trae Bodge. "This includes beauty and grooming products with high-quality ingredients as well as healthy snacks. Note that these items typically cost more than a dollar, but they are an excellent value, nonetheless."

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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