Dollar Tree
Dollar Tree offers a no-frills shopping experience.
  • The stores are neck-and-neck in terms of store count and annual sales.
  • But, there are some big differences in the shopping experiences you’ll have at these stores.

Bargain-hunting has been the flavor of the past decade.

In the wake of the recession, cost-conscious consumers have flocked to off-price, thrift, and dollar stores in search of good deals. As a result, these stores have seen a surge in sales.

From 2010 to 2015, dollar store sales grew from $30.4 billion to $45.3 billion in the US, and hundreds of stores have opened. Credit-rating agency Moody’s said in a report on Dollar Tree that it is expecting 8% growth for the dollar-store segment in 2018. For US retail in general, it is expecting 3.5% to 4.5% growth in 2018.

Dollar General and Dollar Tree are the two largest dollar stores in the US. Based on numbers alone, these stores are almost identical.

Dollar Tree, which bought rival chain Family Dollar in 2015, has a slightly larger store count than Dollar General, but both sit around the 14,000-to-15,000-store mark. In terms of sales, Dollar Tree is a close second, generating $21.5 billion annually compared to $23.3 billion at Dollar General, according to Moody’s.

But there is a massive difference in shopping at these no-frills stores. First and foremost, Dollar Tree sells only products that are $1 or under, whereas Dollar General, which once did the same, is now more like discount retailer.

We visited both to see how they compared:

We visited a Dollar General and a Dollar Tree store that were a 15-minute walk away from each other in Brooklyn.
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Our first stop was at Dollar General. The chain has 14,321 stores in the US, most of which are located in rural areas. In February, it announced it would be opening 900 more locations in 2018.
Business Insider/Mary Hanbury
On first impression, the store looked great. It was modern and bright.
Business Insider/Mary Hanbury
While Dollar General isn't strictly a dollar store, prices are generally 20% to 40% lower than traditional grocery and drug stores, according to a report done by credit rating company Moody's.
Business Insider/Mary Hanbury
At the front of the store there was a large selection of snacks, drinks, and candy.
Business Insider/Mary Hanbury
Next to this was a small
Business Insider/Mary Hanbury
This store didn't have fresh fruit or vegetables, but you could pick up basics such as milk and eggs. There definitely wasn't enough here to do your weekly grocery shopping, but it could be enough to grab some essentials midweek.
Business Insider/Mary Hanbury
While there were a ton of deals on well-known products ...
Business Insider/Mary Hanbury
... you also had the option to pick up lower-cost, private-label items.
Business Insider/Mary Hanbury
On average, the company's stores are 7,300 square feet in size. Considering this is one-tenth of the...