Dollar Store Tricks You Fall For Every Single Time

Who doesn't love taking a trip to the dollar store once in a while? It's the only place where you can find a wide range of cheap stuff that you'll probably only use for a few days and then never think about again. It's also an ideal shop for quickly grabbing some small essentials like notebooks and toothpaste or seasonal extras like party supplies for a variety of occasions and holiday candy.

You most likely aren't surprised to learn that there are several dollar store tricks you might be falling for every time you stop at a Dollar General, Dollar Tree, or Family Dollar. But of course, you'll still want to avoid these tricks so you can get the best prices. Let's take a look at the most common dollar store tricks you may be falling for so during your next visit, you can avoid them — and hopefully save a bit of cash in the process.

Dollar stores make customers think everything there really is only $1

This is one of those tricks that can shock customers when they make their way up to the cash register at a dollar store. If you go into a dollar store, it would be natural to assume that everything is, in fact, $1. But in reality, we know that's not always the case

Luckily, Dollar Tree actually does offer all the products on display for $1, so you know just what you're getting into when you shop there. However, many other national chains don't offer the same kind of price guarantee. That means you could be piling items into your card, thinking that you're only going to pay $1 for each, but then, when the cashier rings you up, you realize you're spending a whole lot more. Doesn't exactly sound like what you would expect from a dollar store!

This trend isn't going to change any time soon, so we recommend that you play close attention to the price tags on each and every item in the dollar stores you go to. It's not that you shouldn't pay more than $1 for an item there if you think it's worth it, but it's important to know exactly how much you're spending, so you don't break your dollar store budget.

Dollar stores are smaller and easier to navigate

There's so much that goes into designing a store. There are groups of people in organizations who just think of ways to get us to spend more money whenever we step foot in a store. Not only does this involve the kinds of products you'll see in the store, but it's also reflected in the store layout.

For example, consider how Dollar Tree purposefully made its stores smaller. Rivals like Walmart (which, on average, is 18 times the size of a dollar store) are absolutely massive, and customers have to walk all the way through a store to see everything that's available. In reality, this doesn't happen too much: Walmart customers just go to the aisles they need and move on, likely missing a lot of what the store has to offer on the way.

But the opposite is true at Dollar Tree. Because they're so small, it's easy for customers to walk through an entire store. This means that customers are seeing such a wide variety of items that they are likely inclined to buy even more than planned. You may not love the tiny aisles and cramped atmosphere of a Dollar Tree, but you should know it's like that for a reason: to get you to spend more money.

Dollar stores lure passersby with loud displays

One tactic that is common at dollar stores and a wide range of other establishments is attempting to attract customers as they're walking past the store. A boring old storefront may not be that appealing, but when you put a bunch of cheap and brightly colored items behind a giant glass window covered in large signs? That may just convince you to go in and see what the fuss is about.

According to Money Crashers, first impressions play a big role in getting people in the door. Of course, there are people who go to the dollar store on a regular basis to buy their essentials, but at the same time, there are plenty of customers who go there on a whim to see what the store has to offer.

If you're trying to save money and don't want to find yourself getting sucked into the vortex of the promising deals at your local dollar store, you should avoid any outdoor bargains or displays that may lure you into a full-on spending binge.

Dollar stores slow you down with their aisle design

Here's another design trick that dollar stores employ when they're setting up a new store. Of course, you've probably already noticed that the footprint of dollar stores is on the smaller side. But if that's the actual case, you might think that they would comfortably space out shelves so people still had plenty of room to walk by one another. It's easy to feel cramped in such a small space, after all.

Actually, many stores want you to feel a little cramped. Money Crashers reports that if a store aisle is too wide, then someone can easily walk to exactly what they want to buy without having to think about the other stuff that's also available. But with smaller aisles, customers are likely to move more slowly, giving them more time to see all the products on display. Dollar stores would do well not to make their aisles too narrow, though, as this might scare some customers off, according to Money Crashers.

How cramped you might feel most likely depends on the store and how easily frustrated you get with smaller aisles. But when it comes to watching your budget, this is certainly a trick you should be on the lookout for.

Dollar stores keep seasonal items in the front and hide what you need

One of the most common tactics that dollar stores employ to get you to spend more money is grabbing your attention with the newest seasonal items right away. Business Insider reports that these items are usually put at the front of dollar stores, as there's a good chance they're new, fun, and likely to catch your attention. Therefore, you might be tempted to buy something from the seasonal section before you even get to what you need.

However, many people are going to dollar stores for essential items. These are, not so conveniently, placed in the back of the store. And so, dollar stores make you walk through things you might not need to get to the stuff you're actually there for. After all, the more you pass on your way to your shopping list items, the more likely you are to pick up random stuff like decorations or fun candy.

If you don't want to fall for this trick, you have to be really disciplined on your next trip to a dollar store. Make a beeline for what you're actually there for, and put blinders on to avoid the rest. Good luck to you out there.

Dollar stores are constantly changing their inventory

If you've spent a lot of time in dollar stores, you've probably noticed that there's something different each and every time you step in the store. That's usually the seasonal items that seem to change on a weekly basis, but you might also find a host of other new products, from bath and beauty necessities to new foodstuffs.

This is one of the best parts of going into a dollar store, because it gives you a chance to roam around. Even if you went for one item in particular, there's a likelihood that you're going to walk out with an armful of stuff you didn't technically need just because it's new and novel.

Well, it shouldn't come as any surprise that this trick is one that's quite successful for dollar stores to employ. Reader's Digest suggests that because there are always new and rotating items in your favorite dollar store, you're less likely to get bored with the selection. And isn't it fun when you get to find something new and unexpected when running errands?

Dollar stores can get you to buy something expensive after you feel you've already saved

Ever wonder how you can find a great deal one second, only to reach for something way out of your budget a moment later? Marketing expert Priya Raghubir spoke to Business Insider about the psychology of store design when it comes to the most popular dollar stores in the nation, and she talks about what she refers to as the momentum effect: "It's a super interesting effect which essentially shows that if you buy something which is really cheap, then, after that, the likelihood of your buying something else that is more expensive increases. So, shopping creates a momentum."

That's why you may see small, inexpensive items at the front of the store — by the time you've already worked your way to the back, you may be primed to spend more money. If you've already spent some cash but still saved, why don't you go for it and just spend some more?

Of course, just like when it comes to avoiding every other trick on this list, it comes down to being disciplined and knowing exactly what you want when you walk into the dollar store. Don't let yourself get distracted by the things you don't need. Unless, of course, you don't mind spending a little bit of extra money splurging on fun dollar store finds — we certainly can't blame you for that.

Dollar stores get you in the door with only some good deals

Here's the thing: There are some items that are definitely cheaper when you buy them from a dollar store. According to The New Yorker, that often includes household essentials like cleaning supplies, hygiene products, and anything else that you might use around the house on a daily basis. This stuff gets many customers in the door because they're looking for the best deal on things they know they have to replenish regularly.

Dollar stores tend to sell these items for cheaper because they also have more expensive items for sale, which are more likely to be things like decorations or clothes and other non-necessities. In other words, dollar stores can get more customers in the door with their great deals on some essential items and then charge more for items people might not need as much.

However, The New Yorker piece points out that this strategy may not be working well for some dollar store companies. Some dollar store chains are falling behind financially despite customer traffic. However, you might not need to fear about any price increases on the basics: Some dollar store executives have decided not to raise the price of essential products since it would take a significant toll on their shoppers.

So, if you're trying to save money when you go to the dollar store, stay away from the novelty items and stick with the practical stuff. Your wallet will thank you later.

Dollar stores can sell smaller-sized items that only seem cheaper

If you're always trying to get a good deal when you're shopping no matter where you are, there's something that you should pay attention to that's even more important than the total price: the per-unit price. Examples of per-unit price include the price per ounce of a product like detergent or the price per item in a bag of candy. Of course, not everyone has the chance to buy the more expensive option of anything, period, but often, when you buy a larger product or a product with more components, you're going to get a better deal.

You may notice all kinds of products are super-cheap at dollar stores, but just because they're the cheapest doesn't mean they're the best value Reader's Digest reports. If you're looking for a deal, you actually have to look at both how much you're getting and how much you're spending. And so, when you compare the numbers at different retailers, you may realize that you'll actually be spending more per unit of a product if you buy it from a dollar store.

It takes a little math to figure it out (so bring your calculator along), but it's definitely worth the time and the effort if you're pinching your pennies. Sometimes, if you're lucky, the store might even provide the per-unit price next to the total price — check to see if it's there the next time you're shopping.

Dollar stores often sell brand-name products at higher prices

Sure, the dollar store you go to may not be trying to trick you with this one, but if you believe the popular perception that you can get everything for less money at a dollar shop, this one might get you for sure. Just say that you're walking through a dollar store aisle, and you see a name-brand product instead of the more generic versions you'll usually find at these stores. It would make sense for you to think that you'd hit the jackpot, because any name-brand item is going to be cheaper at a dollar store, right?

Unfortunately, that's not really the realty. In fact, according to Reader's Digest, you can usually find brand name products for much cheaper someplace else, and you're also more likely to be able to buy in bulk or in larger sizes at conventional stores. Our advice? Skip the name-brand products at dollar stores, and simply stick with the tried-and-true generics that your wallet loves.

Dollar stores love taking you on a "treasure hunt"

Since dollar stores change the merchandise they have available on such a regular basis, you never know what you're going to run into when you visit. On top of that, Business Insider notes that some dollar stores may be somewhat messy and disorganized, and while this may upset some customers, others look at it as a "treasure hunt" experience. You never know what you're going to find, so you want to make sure you take a look at everything just in case.

Surprisingly, this is one area in which online platforms like Amazon just can't compete. Think about it. When you go online to order something, you'll probably be looking at a ton of similar items, and you'll only choose one out of all of those options. It would be difficult for an e-commerce platform to get people to "browse" the way they would through a brick-and-mortar store like a Dollar Tree or Family Dollar.

And if we're being honest, it is kind of fun to work your way through the dollar store just to see what you can find. After all, there are some good deals to take advantage of and fun treats you just might want to take home.

Dollar stores offer lower pricing than other stores — but with a catch

When someone goes to a dollar store for the first time, they may be blown away by how amazing the prices are. There is some pricing at dollar stores that you just can't beat anywhere else, like the famous dollar store pregnancy test. However, you should be wary of some of the stuff you buy at dollar stores. In fact, Reader's Digest has a whole list of things you shouldn't even think about buying at these places.

While the prices might be good, that doesn't mean you're really getting a good bang for your buck. That's because the quality of the products could be lower than what you'd expect. This may not be a full-on trick that dollar stores are pulling on you, but shopping with this assumption could, nonetheless, prevent you going home with subpar items that just don't make the cut.

Of course, if you want to take your chances, that's up to you. Just be aware that you may not be getting top-quality products at every dollar store you go to.