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  • Dollar storesare having a moment.
  • Dollar Tree currently has 14,000 locations, with plans to open hundreds more in 2018. Comparable sales were up 1.8% at Dollar Tree in the second quarter.
  • Dollar Generalcurrently has about15,000 locations, with plans to open 900 in 2018. Comparable sales were up 3.7% at Dollar General in the second quarter.
  • While not a traditional dollar store in that its products are priced up to $5, Five Belowcurrently has 625 stores, and it plans to open 50 more this quarter alone. In the second quarter of 2018, Five Below’s comparable sales grew by 2.7%.
  • We shopped at all three dollar stores and found that one of them offered a much better experience than the other two.

Dollar stores have been growing like crazy recently, with Dollar General, Dollar Tree, and Five Below all planning on opening new stores in 2018. From 2010 to 2015, dollar-store sales grew from $30.4 billion to $45.3 billion in the United States.

Dollar Tree, which recently acquired the Family Dollar chain, currently has around 14,000 locations. In the second quarter of 2018, Dollar Tree reported comparable sales were up 1.8%. USA Today reported that Dollar Tree plans to open 350 more namesake locations, 300 new Family Dollar locations, and rebrand 50 Family Dollar locations as Dollar Tree stores.

Dollar General currently has around 15,000 locations. In 2017, Dollar General opened new locations at a rate of around four stores a day, and in 2018 it plans to open 900 more stores at a rate of about three stores a day. In the second quarter of 2018, Dollar General reported same-store sales were up 3.7%.

While not a traditional dollar store in that its products are priced up to $5, Five Below announced its own plans to grow earlier this year. In the second quarter of 2018, Five Below’s comparable sales grew by 2.7%. It has opened 67 new stores so far in 2018 and plans to open another 50 this quarter in addition to the 625 stores it already operates, CEO Joel Anderson said in an earnings call earlier this month.

One of those stores will be a flagship location on New York’s Fifth Avenue, one of the most expensive shopping destinations in the US, CNBC reported.

We compared what it’s like to shop at the three rapidly growing stores and found that one offered a far better experience. Here’s the verdict:

1/32

We visited Five Below in Queens, New York.

We visited Five Below in Queens, New York. Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

2/32

Everything in the store cost $5 or less, and there were a few sales being advertised on top of the already low prices.

Everything in the store cost $5 or less, and there were a few sales being advertised on top of the already low prices. Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

3/32

There were wheelbarrows filled with school supplies for $5 or less at the front of the store …

There were wheelbarrows filled with school supplies for $5 or less at the front of the store ... Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

4/32

… and backpacks, notebooks, and other back-to-school essentials throughout the store.

... and backpacks, notebooks, and other back-to-school essentials throughout the store. Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

5/32

Five Below carried a ton of electronics like headphones and phone chargers.

Five Below carried a ton of electronics like headphones and phone chargers. Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

6/32

An entire section of the store sold toys, games, and craft supplies.

An entire section of the store sold toys, games, and craft supplies. Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

7/32

Near the toys and games, there was plenty of fitness and sporting equipment.

Near the toys and games, there was plenty of fitness and sporting equipment. Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

8/32

Five Below carried a lot of home decor, which was surprisingly high quality for only $5.

Five Below carried a lot of home decor, which was surprisingly high quality for only $5. Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

9/32

It also carried decent quality clothes and shoes for only $5 …

It also carried decent quality clothes and shoes for only $5 ... Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

10/32

… and a ton of cosmetic products from drugstore brands and smaller brands. Like the clothing, the cosmetics were surprisingly high-quality for the price.

... and a ton of cosmetic products from drugstore brands and smaller brands. Like the clothing, the cosmetics were surprisingly high-quality for the price. Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

11/32

Near the front of the store were essentials like toothbrushes, first-aid supplies, and tissues.

Near the front of the store were essentials like toothbrushes, first-aid supplies, and tissues.