Battle of the Bargain: 99 Cents Only Stores vs. Dollar Tree

Who gives you more bang for your buck: 99 Cents Only Stores or Dollar Tree? We compared these two side-by-side to find out which is the best budget grocery store. Here’s a rundown of the pros and cons of both Dollar Tree and 99 Cents Only Stores.

Please note that the stock of both these grocery store chains varies based on location.

99 Cents Only Stores Pros

Something that’s really nice about the 99 Cents Only Stores is the variety—they don’t just have one type of Cheetos or one flavor of Corn Nuts. They have multiple! Love to have options.. 

My favorite thing about my 99 Cents Only Stores location, however, is that it carries products geared towards the community for a good price. L.A. has a large Mexican and Mexican-American population, so my store stocks products like canned hominy, cotija cheese, and tamarind-flavored candy. Yum!

Related: 4 Drinks You Should Be Buying at the 99 Cents Only Store

Lastly, they always have good holiday decorations. As soon as October hits, you can find me at the 99 Cents Only Stores.

99 Cent Only Stores Cons

The number one thing I dislike about the 99 Cents Only Stores is that they don’t actually carry things that are 99 cents. So, why is it called 99 Cents Only if it’s anything but??? They have some things that are $1, but that’s still not 99 cents, especially with tax.

Additionally, our 99 Cents Only Stores location has a very small freezer section. The freezer can be a great money-saving hack. So, in my opinion, the best budget grocery store should have lots of freezer options.

Dollar Tree Pros

Dollar Tree’s shining star, in my opinion, is their frozen food section. Every Dollar Tree freezer section I’ve seen is bigger and better than the ones at the 99 Cents Only Stores. It’s so full of all different types of products.

Secondly, they actually stay true to their name. When you go to the front page of the Dollar Tree Instacart, almost everything you see starts with $1. Dollar Tree. $1. I like it!

Related: All the Foods You Should Be Buying at Dollar Tree

I also feel like Dollar Tree has a better selection of more expensive brand-name items. I can’t believe they had Bibigo soup dumplings and Helados fruit popsicles at my local store the last time I was there. Those are products that I can’t even find in most non-bargain grocery stores. They are niche and kind of fancy!

Lastly, they group products based on price and add big signs to each section with the price for the entire section. That is super helpful. It makes shopping so clear and accessible, which definitely bumps my Dollar Tree review up a few notches.

Dollar Tree Cons

I find that my Dollar Tree isn’t always the most stocked. I like what they have, but I want to see more of it.

Additionally, a lot of what I saw in my Dollar Tree store is not shown on Instacart. Instacart is necessary for so many people for so many reasons and I’m sad that those people aren’t getting the full Dollar Tree experience. I assume this is also tied to a stocking issue.


When it comes down to it, 99 Cents Only Stores have more, but what Dollar Tree does have is better. You should still turn to your local 99 Cents Only Stores for decorations and community-focused items. In general, however, I’m all about quality over quantity and I’m giving this one to Dollar Tree. Plus, their prices are better overall so they have to win the title of best budget grocery store. Congrats, Dollar Tree!

About the Author

Jordan Myrick

Jordan is an L.A.-based writer and comedian who believes all food should come with extra sauce. When they're not writing for Sporked, Jordan is at the movies or sharing an order of french fries with their elderly chihuahua.