Back in the day, everything at Dollar Tree intuitively cost $1. And by “back in the day,” I mean before 2021. But then the whole $1.25 thing happened, and now — rumors were flying this summer that Dollar Tree rolling back prices to $1 was happening soon. What gives?
After testing out some price hikes at select stores in 2019, by the end of 2021, Dollar Tree was all-in on raising prices to $1.25 at every store. It was a way to test if customers would stay loyal at different price points. And it turns out the answer was a resounding, “yes.” Dollar Tree shoppers were so flexible with that price point that they’ve been testing products at even higher prices — like $3, $4, or $5.
Today I’m coming to you with a good news/bad news situation. The good news is that Dollar Tree is planning to roll back prices on hundreds of items in their stores — back to the original $1 price point.
The bad news? Other products like ice and helium balloons will actually see a price increase. Here’s what we know about the Dollar Tree pricing situation.
1. Dollar Tree is rolling prices back on hundreds of items to $1.
At Dollar Tree’s annual investor conference this summer, Rick Dreiling (the Dollar Tree CEO) announced they were planning to roll back to $1 pricing on 300 – 400 different items (that’s about 5% of their total inventory).
“It’s pretty hard to have a banner like [Dollar Tree], and you have an item that everybody else has at $1, and you’re at a buck and a quarter,” he said.
And it’s true. Clorox costs over 100% more per ounce at Dollar Tree vs. Walmart. And sugar is 54% more expensive at Dollar Tree. We could list the price comparisons all day, and Walmart’s not even their only competition.
After the CEO made his comments, we heard a lot of rumors that we’d start seeing the rollbacks on select items over the summer. But now that we’re into September, we’re finally seeing some evidence of the $1 pricing hitting select stores. While you should expect to see the pricing decrease in the near future at your store, exactly when is a little bit vague.
2. You might see candy, bottled water, spices, and canned goods at the $1 price point soon.
Some shoppers are already seeing the $1 rollbacks popping up in their stores. One TikTokker in Greenville, NC, shared a walkthrough of her store, which had $1 price tags for quite a few items so far.
Here’s the list of what Dollar Tree is testing at the $1 price point at some stores:
- Bottled water
- Boxed candy
- Canned goods
- Fruit cups
- Powdered drink mixes
- Spices and seasonings
3. But expect price hikes on other items as Dollar Tree Plus keeps expanding.
Dollar Tree has been low-key experimenting with even higher price points on some items. As early as 2019, they were putting Dollar Tree Plus sections inside select stores, testing the waters with how much their customers would pay. Items in the Dollar Tree Plus section typically cost $3 – $5.
Obviously, that test of Dollar Tree Plus went well. By the end of 2022, there were more than 2,500 stores with Dollar Tree Plus sections. They’re hoping to get that number up to more than 4,300 store locations by year’s end. The Dollar Tree Plus section paved the way for some of the price hikes we see Dollar Tree eagerly implementing. Some of the price hikes will be implemented in the coming months. Others are already in action.
4. Helium balloons now cost $1.50.
Already, helium balloons cost $1.50 at Dollar Tree locations across the country, breaking from the current $1.25 norm.
5. Ice is now $2 at Dollar Tree. That’s not the best price.
Dollar Tree’s chief merchandising officer, Ryan McNeely, also spoke at the investor conference. One of the many items he commented on was ice — and its recent price hike to $2 per bag.
“We were on the verge of losing the ice program at $1.25,” he said. “It was custom-made. The vendor […was…] raising the price, and we had nowhere to go. So, by the way, ice is in the top 50 every week. It’s a key item for us, the customer is loving it and now it’s working at $2.”
At least that price hike feels fair. It’s not just a move for profit — they’re purportedly raising prices so they can afford to keep stocking it.
TIP: The cheapest places to get ice are the Sonic Drive-In and some grocery stores — though not all. You’ll need to look to beat Dollar Tree’s $0.40 per pound price. Other places that beat Dollar Tree’s ice pricing include Burger King and Chick-fil-A.
6. Brand-name bread is going up to $3 a bag.
We have a long-term crush on $1.25 bread at Dollar Tree. So the announced price hikes on bread are a cause for concern.
Dollar Tree has already been experimenting with $3 bread prices at select pilot stores. And the sales have been really good for them. So good that they’re rolling out the new $3 bread pricing at 400 of their stores before the year’s end.
That’s not to say all bread will be $3. Dollar Tree has explained that different brands will sell at different price points in different markets. Hopefully, that means our Baker’s Choice fave is safe for a while, but don’t be surprised if this price hike sneaks up on your local store.
Related: 16 Best Deals at Dollar Tree
7. Select stores now have name-brand ice cream — for five whole dollars.
Brand-name ice cream has made an appearance at 1,400 Dollar Tree stores thus far, and the plan is to have it at 1,400 more by the end of January 2024. You won’t be getting your ice cream for $1.25, though. It’ll be about five times that price.
Five dollars is not the best deal you can get on ice cream, unless Dollar Tree starts adding sales to their repertoire. For example, Giant Eagle is absolutely not the cheapest grocery store to shop — especially since they’ve revamped their rewards program. But even still, when there’s a sale, I can get a tub of Friendly’s for $4.49. And sometimes you’ll see a store coupon for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream that gives you $2 off when you buy two pints, resulting in a price of $4.49 per pint.
If you’re a dollar store and Giant Eagle is beating you on prices, that’s generally not a good thing.
TIP: Dollar Tree does accept manufacturer coupons, which could lower the price per ice cream if you’re buying the right size. But other stores — like Giant Eagle — accept manufacturer coupons, too.
8. Find name-brand toys for $3 – $5 at select stores.
Part of the reason that Dollar Tree is upping prices is because they’re trying to expand their inventory — especially brand-name inventory. We’ve seen them experimenting with Play-Doh sets for $3 for a five-tub package to $5 for mini Play-Doh sets. So don’t be surprised to see these products and price points start popping up in more stores.
But just because these products are name-brand doesn’t mean they’re always a good deal. While the Play-Doh sets can actually save you a lot of money, the $5 Dollar Tree Pokemon cards are only $3.99 at Best Buy.
Related: What Not to Buy at Dollar Tree
9. There’s not going to be consistent pricing at Dollar Tree anymore.
While some items are getting rolled back to $1, Dollar Tree is planning to have a number of different price points in each store. On top of the $1.50 balloons, you’ll also find $2, $3, $4, and $5 price tags in the near future (if your store doesn’t have them already). And some items will stay at $1.25. That means the days of uniform pricing at Dollar Tree are long gone. And you’re gonna have to do more math.
But they’re not trying to get too crazy with it.
“We intend to have limited and fixed price points,” McNeely told investors. “We’re not going to have every price under the sun…complication is not our friend.”
How do you feel about Dollar Tree’s new pricing structure? Vent and/or rejoice with us in the comments!