If you're not a dollar-store shopper, you could be missing out. Consumer Reports ShopSmart found that's because shopping at dollar stores is a whole different experience these days.
Customers at this Family Dollar store say the savings keep them coming back again and again.
Consumer Reports ShopSmart surveyed 1500 women and found about 75% of them are shopping at dollar stores more than they used to.
Jody Rohlena of Consumer Reports says, "Dollar stores are really growing and expanding into a lot of new markets, and many people who maybe never shopped them before are giving them a second look in this economy."
Favorite purchases-paper and plastic goods...cleaning products...party supplies...storage items and toiletries.
ShopSmart also sent out secret shoppers to check prices on 38 everyday products. They shopped at Dollar General and Family Dollar. Then they compared the prices at Walmart, Target, and some supermarkets.
Rohlena says, "Walmart had the lowest prices on the most items. Supermarkets had the highest prices by far. But dollar stores were really competitive."
In fact Dollar General had the best deals on five products, with savings anywhere from 12% all the way up to 28%.
And ShopSmart finds you can save even more on private-label brands at dollar stores.
Rohlena says, "The dollar stores have really changed a lot, especially over the last five years or so. They're better organized, they have cleaner aisles, they have a lot more stuff, and they're really designed to get you in and out very quickly."
So ShopSmart says it's easier than ever to scope out dollar-store savings.
ShopSmart's survey shows the biggest complaint among the women surveyed-limited selection and availability.
But dollar stores, especially big chains like Dollar General, Family Dollar, Dollar Tree, and 99 Cents Only, are working hard to change that-stocking up on more big brand-name products, and rolling out new and improved stores across the country.