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Why Some Consumers are Not Shopping at the Dollar Store Anymore

Exterior of a Dollar Tree store with signage that reads “$1”
Source: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Consumer trends change frequently and, sometimes, overnight. And it seems that, suddenly, people are far less interested in shopping at Dollar Tree, and other similar stores, than they once were.

Since the mid 1990s when Dollar Tree opened its doors, customers have flocked to its many stores for discounted products. They were so successful in their business model that many other companies followed suit and stores opened with the names Family Dollar, Dollar General, and Five Below. These stores sold all kinds of items such as candy and drinks, accessories, snacks, hair care, over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, gift wrapping, home decor, and holiday treats, all for far less than the vast majority of retailers.

However, recently, customers of the discount stores have reported that they stopped shopping there because the price, quality, experience, and ethics of the company simply aren’t what they want them to be.

Some shoppers noted that Dollar Tree stores are never air conditioned, and they are uncomfortable to shop in. Others reported that the sodas and candies that Dollar Tree sells simply don’t taste quite right, even if it is technically a brand name like Pepsi or Coca-Cola. And many are worried about the quality and safety of the products after testing found that cookware sold at the Dollar Tree was coated with a BPA- epoxy and PTEE, as well as lead and plastics that are dangerous for both the consumer and the planet.

There are also those who have decided to skip the Dollar Tree because they disagree with the company’s mistreatment of their workers. Dollar Tree has been found guilty of several OSHA violations and is even currently facing a $770,136 fine for disregarding employee safety protocols.

With inflation on the rise and the cost of living increasing across the board, many would think that these downsides might be worth it to someone who desperately needs the discounts. However, some customers have realized that the Dollar Tree and its contemporaries don’t actually offer the lowest prices in town.

Although seeing only $1.25 on a bag of chips or a pack of ibuprofen may seem like a great deal, the truth is that Dollar Tree only sells very small packages at that price point. But in fact, shopping at another retailer, such as Walmart, and buying a slightly more expensive item, could save someone a great deal of money in the long run as their items come in larger packages. Here’s an example: At the Dollar Tree, a shopper can purchase 40 capsules of 200 mg ibuprofen; however, at Walmart, they offer bottles of 100 capsules for $2.88.

So with inconsiderate and illegal labor practices, disorganized and uncomfortable stores, inferior products, and a higher price tag, many agree that there is simply no reason to shop at the Dollar Tree, or any other extreme discount store, anymore.


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