We shopped at Dollar General and Five Below to see which rapidly growing discount store offered a better experience, and the winner was clear

Business Insider/Jessica TylerDollar General and Five Below both had a lot of clearance sales on top of their already low prices.


Dollar stores have been growing like crazy over the past few years.

From 2010 to 2015, dollar-store sales grew from $US30.4 billion to $US45.3 billion in the United States. Dollar General, Dollar Tree, and Family Dollar have all announced plans to open hundreds of stores this year.

Dollar General currently has around 15,000 locations. This year, it is on track to open 900 stores at a rate of about three stores a day, with plans to open a further 975 stores in 2019. In the third quarter of 2018, Dollar General reported same-store sales were up 2.8%.

While not a traditional dollar store in that its products are priced up to $US5, Five Below announced its own plans to grow earlier this year. Five Below reported comparable sales grew by 4.8% in the third quarter, and it opened 53 new stores, bringing its total count to 745.

One of the stores that opened was a flagship location on New York’s Fifth Avenue, one of the most expensive shopping destinations in the US.

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


The Dollar General we visited was in Queens, New York.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

In the front of the store was a table with seasonal summer products that were 40% off.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Also near the front of the store was a small shelf with phone chargers that cost between $US5 and 15.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The aisles nearest to the entrance were filled with chips and candy anywhere from $US1 to $US5.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

It also carried sodas and energy drinks …

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… spices, condiments, pasta, cereal, and other basic food products. There was a decent variety of different brands and sizes, including its own private-label Clover Valley brand.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There was a small aisle with drugstore makeup brands like Maybelline and Covergirl, ranging anywhere from $US3 to $US10 for most products. There were a ton of products crammed into the small space.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There was a small shelf of $US3 books in the back corner of the store, but there wasn’t a ton to choose from.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There were a few aisles of home decor and seasonal Halloween and Christmas products, most of which cost $US3 or less, but it was pretty messy. There were a lot of empty shelves towards the back of the store.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

It also had a small selection of toys …

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… lots of cleaning supplies, storage bins, and other home products …

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… and pet food and toys.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Even though most things in the store were pretty inexpensive as is, there was an entire aisle of products that cost exactly $US1.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The store also had a clearance section, though it was a bit of a mess.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

By the register were magazines, candy, gum, and other small products. The store had a pretty big variety of products, and even though it was a bit disorganized, you’d definitely be able to find most things you need for under $US15.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The Five Below we went to was also in Queens.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Even though everything in the store already cost $US5 or less, many products were 50% off.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Near the front of the store were wheelbarrows filled with school supplies. Dollar General had some school supplies, but not nearly as many as Five Below.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Five Below carried electronics like headphones and phone chargers, and everything cost under $US5.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Five Below didn’t carry any food like Dollar General did, but the front of the store was like a small candy store. There was also a small cooler selling drinks like Red Bull and soda for under $US5.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There were a ton of cosmetics products from drugstore brands and smaller brands alike. There was a surprising amount of all-natural and cruelty-free brands, which are typically more expensive.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There was a wall of $US5 clothes and shoes, selling simple styles like black boots, plain tank tops, and pajamas that you might also find at a store like Target. The styles were all very basic, and the quality was better than you’d expect on a $US5 pair of shoes.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The middle of the store had books for $US5 or less, and it carried a much bigger selection than Dollar General.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Five Below didn’t have seasonal products out yet when we visited, but it did have a lot of home decor products for around the same price as Dollar General.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There were toys and games …

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… fitness equipment …

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… and craft supplies. While it had a lot more toys, games, and arts and crafts supplies, it didn’t have as many cleaning supplies or pet products as Dollar General.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Even though Dollar General had more in terms of food and other necessities, the products that the stores did have in common were higher quality and less expensive at Five Below than Dollar General, and the store was also cleaner, brighter, and more pleasant to shop in, making it the clear winner.

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

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