28 Items Cheaper at the Dollar Store Than at Walmart

Earns Wal-Mart
Seth Perlman/AP
By Gina Martinez

Walmart is known for stellar deals, but these days it has some serious competition from dollar stores. A recent price comparison of 42 products showed Walmart (WMT) neck-and-neck with Family Dollar (FDO) and Dollar General (DG), which sell party supplies and seasonal items, office and school supplies, personal care products, household goods, and other merchandise for less than $10.

Analysts expect to see even lower prices at Family Dollar now that the chain is merging with Dollar Tree, where everything really does cost no more than $1. This aggressive pricing model helps consumers find better bargains at Dollar Tree than Walmart on many low-cost items. On a recent shopping trip, Cheapism.com rounded up 28 Dollar Tree products that cost less than the cheapest comparable item at Walmart. (Dollar Tree doesn't carry many national brands, so in most cases, it wasn't possible to compare identical products.)

Aluminum Foil. Most households keep aluminum foil in the kitchen, and when the roll runs out, the $5-plus price tag at many grocery and convenience stores is an unwelcome expense. At Walmart, 90 square feet of aluminum foil sells for $2.97 under the retailer's Great Value private label, while Dollar Tree's 40-square-foot Ultra-brand roll costs $1. That's 2.5 cents a foot compared with 3.3 cents at Walmart.

Baby Oil. Lots of parents use baby oil to soothe newborns' skin, and it's handy to have around for everything from removing eye makeup to untangling jewelry chains. At Dollar Tree, 10 ounces of Angel of Mine baby oil goes for $1, whereas Walmart's Equate brand is priced at $1.98 for 14 ounces. At 10 cents an ounce vs. 14 cents an ounce, it's a close call but still a win for the dollar store.

Bandages. Whether you have active kids, can be a bit clumsy, or just want to be prepared for anything, it's nice to have a stockpile of bandages. A box of 100 assorted bandages costs $3.98 if you buy the Curad brand at Walmart but only $1 if you opt for Assured-brand bandages at Dollar Tree.

Batteries. Dollar Tree customers can get a 10-count pack of Sunbeam AA batteries for $1. Walmart, by contrast, has Go Green batteries in 20-count packs for $4.44, more than twice the price per battery. You may not want to buy batteries at the dollar store, however. They've been shown to contain less stored energy than brand-name batteries.

Cereal. If you're looking to save on generic cereal, should you choose Walmart's Great Value brand or Dollar Tree's Malt-o-Meal? The dollar store is the answer, but not by much, with 10-ounce boxes of cereal in classic varieties for $1 each (10 cents an ounce). That compares to $2.18 for 14- to 20-ounce boxes at Walmart, or about 11 to 16 cents an ounce. Wondering about taste? Malt-O-Meal Golden Puffs and Frosted Mini Spooners are unanimous recommendations in reviews on the Dollar Tree website.

Cotton Swabs. Consumers can save on these toiletry essentials at Dollar Tree, where 250 swabs sell for $1. At Walmart, the best options are 500-count packages from several different brands for $2.98. On the Dollar Tree website, most reviewers recommend the Assured brand product. They say the swabs are sturdy enough, with paper sticks instead of plastic, but several warn that the cotton has come off in their ears.

Dish Soap. The LA's Totally Awesome line gets good reviews on the Dollar Tree website, and dish soap sells for an almost-too-good-to-believe price of $1 for a 50-ounce bottle in stores. At Walmart, the cheapest choice is 52 ounces of Ajax for $2.96, almost three times the price.

Flashlight. As a precaution, it's smart to stow flashlights around the house and in the car. Walmart sells two for $4.97, but Dollar Tree has the retail giant beat once again, with flashlights for a buck each. Like the Walmart product, they take two DD batteries and measure between 7 and 8 inches. Reviewers recommend them as long-lasting and convenient, although some customers who ordered cases of 24 online found a few duds.

Glass Cleaner. Cleaning products are one of the best things to buy at the dollar store. At Dollar Tree, consumers can find a 40-ounce bottle of Solutions glass and multi-surface cleaner for $1. It's formulated with vinegar and works well, reviewers say. At Walmart, the cheapest options (Glass Plus and the store's Great Value brand) were $2.17 for 32 ounces.

Hand Sanitizer. Hand sanitizers available at Dollar Tree (Assured brand) and Walmart (Germ-X) both contain more than 60 percent ethyl alcohol, the minimum recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The prices: $1.98 for 10 ounces at Walmart compared with (of course) $1 for the same size bottle at Dollar Tree.

Headphones. If you're convinced that even the best cheap headphones don't sound that great and will break soon enough, you may just want to go for the cheapest option available. Earbuds and on-ear headphones start at $4.14 at Walmart vs. $1 at Dollar Tree.

Hydrogen Peroxide. Use it for wound treatment, cleaning, stain removal, and personal health and beauty, but don't pay too much for hydrogen peroxide. A 16-ounce bottle at Walmart runs $1.41, whereas Dollar Tree offers twice that amount (32 ounces) for about 70 percent of the Walmart price.

Educational Flashcards. Anything to help children be successful in school and get them away from ubiquitous screens, right? At Dollar Tree, flashcard packs for math and word recognition cost $1 each. The cheapest analogous flashcards at Walmart were twice that much, and most of the options were even pricier.

Kitchen Storage Containers. Cheap, reusable containers store everything from leftovers to art supplies and are an economical choice for people who like to give away food. The most affordable option at Walmart was five 5-ounce Glad containers for $2.57. Dollar Tree offers a huge variety of $1 sets of varying sizes, including three 8-ounce containers and four 9.4-ounce containers. There are a few reports online of lids popping off, but overall the Sure Fresh brand garners positive reviews.

Notebooks and Paper. This one's no contest: At the dollar store, a 120-sheet spiral-bound notebook costs $1 compared with $4.60 each for similar products at Walmart. Composition books are 100 sheets for $1 vs. 50 sheets for $1.72 (about 70 percent less per sheet). A 150-sheet pack of paper comes to $3.98 at Walmart but just a buck at the dollar store.

Party Supplies. Why overspend on one-time-use items such as balloons, streamers, and the like? These things add up when you're planning a party. At Dollar Tree, $1 buys 10 invitations, three gift bags, 12 party cups, 20 party napkins, a 12-foot banner, or a foil balloon. These items are all costlier at Walmart, where invitations start at $1.49 for eight, gift bags are 79 cents a pop, cups are $1.98 for eight, and napkins are $1.67 for 16. Foil balloons and comparable banners start at $2.49 and $1.29, respectively.

Picture Frames. To get a good deal on picture frames at Walmart, consumers generally have to buy a set, such as six 8x10 frames from store brand Mainstays starting at $11.76. Dollar Tree offers comparable frames in various sizes for $1 each. The only way to get that rate at Walmart is to purchase a dozen 4x6 or 5x7 frames for $12.

Plastic Tumbler. Like to bring your own beverages? Colorful, 35-ounce plastic tumblers come with lids, straws, and $1 price tags at Dollar Tree. Smaller 16- and 22-ounce cups from Walmart run $5.79 and up. Hundreds of online reviewers vouch for the quality of Dollar Tree tumblers of various sizes.

Pool and Beach Toys. Available for $1 each at Dollar Tree: a pool noodle, a kids' swim mask, a pail and shovel, and inflatables such as tubes and arm bands. Walmart's prices for these items were considerably higher and the quality seemed comparable (floating products are durable and goggles leak-free, according to Dollar Tree reviews). The best deals we saw at Walmart were floats and arm bands for $4.17 each; tubes for $3.40 each; a six-pack of noodles for $11.69; and swim masks for $4.37 each.

Pot and Pan Brush. Dollar Tree sells a Scrub Buddies pot and pan scrubbing brush with a long handle for -- you guessed it -- $1. The only comparable item at Walmart was a Scotch-Brite brush for $2.99. The dollar store product has earned the unanimous approval of more than a dozen reviewers, many of whom say it's more durable than pricier brushes from big-box stores.

Potholders. Walmart packages potholders from its Mainstays brand in sets of two starting at $2.98. At the dollar store, customers can get a pack of two potholders plus an oven mitt for the usual $1 price. All the products come in a variety of colors to match kitchen decor.

Pregnancy Tests. This might come as a surprise, but many women swear by dollar-store pregnancy tests, and studies have shown they're as accurate as more expensive varieties. At Dollar Tree, a New Choice test will set you back $1. The cheapest option at Walmart is the house brand Equate, at $2.98.

Shampoo and Conditioner. Low-end shampoos such as White Rain and VO5 come in 12.5- and 20-ounce bottles for $1 at Dollar Tree. A comparable brand, Suave -- available in a variety of scents, like the others -- costs $2.74 for 28 ounces at Walmart. That's about 10 cents an ounce vs. as low as 5 cents an ounce at Dollar Tree.

Spices. Salt, pepper, garlic powder, and many other basic dried spices are available at Dollar Tree in standard-size bottles of varying weights (1 ounce to 5 ounces depending on the item). At $1 apiece, or as little as 50 cents an ounce, you could accumulate a uniform spice collection on the cheap. At Walmart, the best value tends to be extra-large McCormick-brand containers (10 ounces to 20 ounces) at about 55 cents an ounce or more. Smaller bottles are more expensive. Reviewers assert that the quality at the dollar store matches supermarket brands; just be sure to check the expiration dates.

Sugar. Domino is one of the relatively few national brands Dollar Tree stocks. At Walmart, 1 pound of the white sugar is $1.28, as opposed to $1 at Dollar Tree. Light and dark brown sugars are likewise $1 a pound at Dollar Tree. Walmart commonly sells 2-pound boxes of brown sugar for $2.34 each. These differences are slight but relevant if you're on a tight budget and saving your pennies, especially given that you're getting an identical product.

Sunglasses. Dollar Tree has a selection of "fashion sunglasses" for a mere $1 each, whereas Walmart's lowest-priced sunglasses for kids are between $2 and $3 and the least costly adult options are at least $5.99. Of course, you can't expect high quality sunglasses from either store, but for cheap shades you don't have to worry about losing or breaking, Dollar Tree is the place.

Sunscreen. Proper sun protection requires a lot of sunscreen, but you don't have to shell out big bucks for broad-spectrum, SPF 50 coverage. Walmart's best deal is 16 fluid ounces of Equate sunscreen for $9. At Dollar Tree, customers can get a 3-ounce bottle for a purse or pocket from the brand EAD. Buy six for a total of $6, and you get more sunscreen for less cash than you'd spend at Walmart.

Vases. From collecting spare change to holding cooking utensils, a cheap vase can do much more than display flowers. At Dollar Tree, 8-inch vases in assorted colors cost $1 each. The cheapest option we saw at Walmart was a 5-inch vase for $4.
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