Avoid these products at the dollar store

Discount retailers that sell inexpensive household items might seem like the ideal place to find bargains but not every product is as great a deal as it may seem.

That’s not to say you can’t find worthwhile buys at discount stores, but it’s always important to do your research before you shop so you’re not duped into buying items that either lack quality or are simply not the best deal.

While some things – take paper goods, for example – are excellent deals in pretty much every dollar store, many aren’t.

Here are the products you should steer clear of at the dollar store.

It’s best to skip the electronics aisle in discount retailers, according to consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch.

“Most electronics that plug in are junk and don’t last long, especially HDMI cords and power strips,” she said. “When dealing with electronics, it’s best to purchase from a legit electronic retailer or an online store.”

Cords, plugs, and power strips sold at dollar stores can be flimsy or poorly made; all it takes is one loose connection or faulty wire to start a fire.

So, while dollar store electronics may seem like a great deal, they could put your home at risk.

Loading up on packs of generic batteries to keep your remote control going may seem like a great idea, but it could cost more in the long run.

Cheap batteries tend to have less energy than name brands, so you could find yourself having to change them more frequently. They may be adequate for something like a flashlight that is used sporadically but for often-used items, it’s advised to go with the name brands.

Moreover, cheap batteries are known to leak, which can damage electronics.

Even if the dollar store has name brand batteries; keep in mind that the products in dollar stores can be liquidated from other retailers and they may have already sat on a shelf for three years in a different store.

You might not think about batteries having a shelf life, but even unused ones lose their charge over time, so you may be paying for less power.

Vitamins and supplements
Getting your daily dose of vitamins and minerals is important, but probably best to head to a chemist or pharmacy to pick up these pills.

Some cheap vitamins contain next to none of the nutrients promised on the bottle. There’s also a chance they are expired, or close to their expiry date.

Whenever you’re considering a vitamin supplement, read the label and compare information as well as ingredients. Some vitamins – even the expensive ones – may contain more fillers than the actual ingredient.

Read more: Supplements: The good, the bad and the ugly

Packaged goods of smaller sizes
That extra cheap pack of biscuits might be tempting but dry, packaged goods in dollar stores are often sold in smaller packages than you’d find in a regular supermarket.

This means you could be paying more per gram than you expect.

This goes back to the fact that dollar stores could receive products that haven’t sold well in other shops. It’s hard to tell how long these products have been sitting on shelves and SPF degrades over time.

Read more: What should you believe about sunscreen?

You want a knife that can get the job done as quickly as possible when you’re cooking. And a knife from the dollar store might not live up to its duty, said Ms Woroch.

“Some items in the kitchen section, like food storage containers, are a good buy. However, when it comes to knives, it’s a big no-no, since these won’t be sharp – and dull knives can be very dangerous,” she said. Any way you slice it, a knife from the dollar store might not be a wise investment.

Pet food or treats
Canned cat and dog food costs about $1 a can at the grocery store, sometimes less if you find a good sale.

The off brands at the dollar store may be even cheaper, but they might not contain the quality ingredients found in the more popular brands.

If you’re determined to try a cheaper pet food, pay special attention to expiration dates and the ingredients list to ensure you know what you’re getting.

Read more: Vegetables dogs can and can’t eat

Beauty products
You can score some great discounts on personal care items at the dollar store but there are some duds.

If you see a brand you already use on the shelf, it’s probably worth picking up a few. But it may be best to stay away from unfamiliar products, especially when it comes to products used on your face. It isn’t worth the risk of an allergic reaction or rash caused by cheap ingredients.

Do you shop at discount retailers? Or do you stick to the supermarket? Have you found any gems when searching the shelves?

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Written by Ellie Baxter

Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.

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