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

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Dollar General and Five Below have both been growing like crazy, with both stores planning to open a ton of new stores in 2018.

Dollar General and Five Below both had a lot of clearance sales on top of their already low prices. play

Dollar General and Five Below both had a lot of clearance sales on top of their already low prices.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)

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

From 2010 to 2015, dollar-store sales grew from $30.4 billion to $45.3 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 $5, 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.

Finally we went to Dollar General, which was down the block from Dollar Tree. play

Finally we went to Dollar General, which was down the block from Dollar Tree.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


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

play

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


Also near the front of the store was a small shelf with phone chargers that cost between $5 and 15.

... and the electronics it offered were nearly double the price of Dollar Tree and Five Below. play

... and the electronics it offered were nearly double the price of Dollar Tree and Five Below.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


The aisles nearest to the entrance were filled with chips and candy anywhere from $1 to $5.

The aisles nearest to the entrance were filled with chips and candy anywhere from $1 to $5. play

The aisles nearest to the entrance were filled with chips and candy anywhere from $1 to $5.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


It also carried sodas and energy drinks ...

It also carried sodas and energy drinks ... play

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.

... 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. play

... 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 $3 to $10 for most products. There were a ton of products crammed into the small space.

There was a small aisle with drugstore makeup brands like Maybelline and Covergirl, ranging anywhere from $3 to $10 for most products. There were a ton of products crammed into the small space. play

There was a small aisle with drugstore makeup brands like Maybelline and Covergirl, ranging anywhere from $3 to $10 for most products. There were a ton of products crammed into the small space.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


There was a small shelf of $3 books in the back corner of the store, but there wasn't a ton to choose from.

There was a small shelf of $3 books in the back corner of the store, but there wasn't a ton to choose from. play

There was a small shelf of $3 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 $3 or less, but it was pretty messy. There were a lot of empty shelves towards the back of the store.

... and it had an aisle of inexpensive and seasonal home decor. play

... and it had an aisle of inexpensive and seasonal home decor.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


It also had a small selection of toys ...

It also had a small selection of toys ... play

It also had a small selection of toys ...

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


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

... lots of cleaning supplies, storage bins, and other home products ... play

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

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


... and pet food and toys.

... and pet food and toys. play

... 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 $1.

Even though most things in the store were pretty inexpensive as is, there was an entire aisle of products that cost exactly $1. play

Even though most things in the store were pretty inexpensive as is, there was an entire aisle of products that cost exactly $1.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


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

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

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 $15.

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 $15. play

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 $15.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


The Five Below we went to was also in Queens.

We visited Five Below in Queens, New York. play

We visited Five Below in Queens, New York.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


Even though everything in the store already cost $5 or less, many products were 50% off.

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

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)


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.

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

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

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


Five Below carried electronics like headphones and phone chargers, and everything cost under $5.

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

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

(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 $5.

Five Below didn't sell any food, but it sold a ton of candy and soda by the register. play

Five Below didn't sell any food, but it sold a ton of candy and soda by the register.

(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.

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. play

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 $5 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 $5 pair of shoes.

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

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

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


The middle of the store had books for $5 or less, and it carried a much bigger selection than Dollar General.

After visiting all three stores, it seemed that Five Below had the best deals. The biggest drawback was that it didn't sell food, but it was, all in all, much cleaner. It offered the best shopping experience of the three, and the products were higher quality. play

After visiting all three stores, it seemed that Five Below had the best deals. The biggest drawback was that it didn't sell food, but it was, all in all, much cleaner. It offered the best shopping experience of the three, and the products were higher quality.

(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.

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. play

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 ...

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

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

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


... fitness equipment ...

... fitness equipment ... play

... 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.

... 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. play

... 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.

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. play

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)