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Demosthenes's avatar

Are there a lot of dollar stores in your area? Are they are a sign of economic decline?

Asked by Demosthenes (11999points) 1 month ago from iPhone

While many retail stores have seen slow growth, dollar stores are doing better than ever and will make up at least a third of new retail stores opening in the U.S. (according to an article I recently came across). Are they a sign of growing income inequality and a shrinking middle class? Do you shop at dollar stores?

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15 Answers

janbb's avatar

There have been two in my area for a number of years. i haven’t seen any increase or mention of any increase in their patronage.

Oops! Just saw probably the same article you saw about 1 in 3 retail stores opening being Dollar General stores so I guess it’s a thing. Just haven’t noticed it around here yet.

Demosthenes's avatar

@janbb I haven’t noticed it either, but this is a fairly affluent area. They are fairly dominant in some parts of the country, from what I’ve heard.

Yellowdog's avatar

I don’t think its a sign of economic decline.

Firstly, it is better for the lower economic population to have them.

Second, they often serve the purpose of convenience stores. They are everywhere, and you never have to wait in line, and are never crowded. They don’t have meats and deli but they have most of the pre-packaged stuff and plenty of groceries.

Thirdly, they actually have some unique items—some of them have some rather artsy stuff – mirrors, hat racks, coffee mugs,kitchen items, artwork, – and some gift shop / souviner type merchandise.

I usually stop at Dollar Stores because they are convenient, on the way, and I know exactly what I am needing and I know they carry these items.

KNOWITALL's avatar

One per small town here, Dollar General.

We do shop there, it’s not a dollar though! Ours has a small grocery, liquor, name brand snacks like Hostess, all kinds of things. More like a tiny Wal-Mart. Maybe the number of locations is a bonus as people shop closer to home.

stanleybmanly's avatar

You’d have to be brain dead not to understand this as just an outcrop in the mountain of “signs” highlighting the snuffing out of the middle class as the American dream transforms into a life of pinching pennies. You ALL know the signs. Those dollar stores popping up like mushrooms in abandoned factories and malls. Those 20 and 30 year olds who can no longer afford to leave “home”. There’s a map of the United States that shows Walmart as the largest private employer now in 21 of the 50 states. It’s a humbling and distressing thing to witness as I grow old in a country fading one hell of a lot faster than I am.

YARNLADY's avatar

It’s so funny, I remember a similar report from the big “recession” in the 1960’s. There is always a period of recovery required after these things.
It is interesting that the longest periods of economic growth in this country are during Democratic administrations

Tropical_Willie's avatar

“Are they are a sign of economic decline?”

Not connected to building Dollar Stores, they are convenience stores and are convenient to where people live. We have lost thirty or more stores and restaurants in the last 10 years in a city with 50,000 people. Four convenience stores have been built in the last two years

elbanditoroso's avatar

I have been to two in my life, although they are all over the area where I live. They didn’t have what I wanted either time (although they should have had the stuff – it was pretty basic – like an extension cord).

My guess is that people have gotten so used to Walmart and Amazon and low priced stuff that they will by crap at Dollar that will break in a day, instead of getting better stuff somewhere else. These stores are banking on the cheapness and innocence and gullibility of their customers.

I think that 60% of their stores will be abandoned in the next 5–10 years and the companies will be hurting.

jca2's avatar

There are not a lot of new dollar stores opening up here, but it’s an affluent area.

There was a Toys R’Us that closed and there’s an Ocean State Job Lot that’s going in there, and a lot of people aren’t happy about it because it’s in the same plaza as a Christmas Tree Shops, which is also odd lot kind of stuff. Other than that, yes, there are a few dollar stores around but not a big amount of new ones opening.

I don’t usually go to them – maybe two or three times a year. Some things at the dollar store could be found for less at a Walmart, so like anything, you have to know your prices.

JLeslie's avatar

We have a lot of Dollar Stores and Dollar General. They are usually a sign of lower income areas. We have the same amount now as we had before covid.

They often are not less expensive for many things. They package items in smaller amounts so the price per ounce is the same as any supermarket. Sometimes it’s more at the dollar store. They also have a lot of off brands.

They do have great deals for some items, just friends what you are looking for.

Their target market is people who live check to check and don’t necessarily evaluate a price per ounce, but just look at what they can afford with the money in their pocket at that moment.

I go to a Dollar Store sometimes when I need party supplies or greeting cards. Also, plastic containers and some other random things. I wind up in one maybe twice a year.

My close friend where I live did really well in the “dollar stores” when it was hard to find cleaning and sanitizing products during covid.

seawulf575's avatar

“Dollar stores” have been around for a long time. Dollar General, the Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, Big Lots, and many others have been around for decades. And like any business, they will expand if business is good. It might be a sign of the economic times, or it might be a sign of a burgeoning population. I know that even when I was being paid 6 figures, I would shop at the cheap places for many things. No sense, in my mind, paying extra for something just for the privilege of going into a ritzier store.
Another consideration to the original question is that many retail stores have seen slow growth or even no growth or a slow death for a while now. That is likely a product of on-line shopping and not the economy. People can sit at home and order stuff all day long off their computers. So the actual stores lose customers, but have lost no bills. Rent, utilities, etc are all the same.

cookieman's avatar

I live on the border between two towns and each has their own Dollar Tree. They’ve been there for years.

Bunch of years ago, when we were really struggling financially, we went to one of them all the time. We kept going even after we got back on our feet. Still go occasionally.

They’re a great resource for very good to mediocre stuff on a tight budget. Things like bleach, gift bags, plastic food containers, deodorant, toothpaste, and zip lock bags are identical to what I can find in the grocery story up the street, for only a dollar each.

Their food items are pretty sketchy, but I’m happy to know it’s an option just in case.

jca2's avatar

Good point, @cookieman. Instead of spendign $3—$5 in a stationery store for a gift bag, great gift bags can be had from a dollar store for only a dollar. Also plastic tableware for parties – tablecloths, eating utensils. Perfect.

cookieman's avatar

@jca2: Exactly. Gift wrap and bags end up in the trash anyway. Greeting cards too.

Jonsblonde's avatar

No new stores here in Madison, Wisconsin. I think we actually lost a couple.

I frequented Dollar stores when I lived in rural Illinois but we didn’t have many options. It makes sense for me now to walk two blocks to my local grocery (which happens to be my workplace) and get my supplies there. Some items may be more costly but it evens out since I’m not traveling far.

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