New research claims the discount retail chains known as “dollar stores” are not having a positive impact on the communities where they are sprouting like weeds.
A report by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance claims Dollar General and Dollar Tree, which owns Family Dollar, often choose disenfranchised areas to set up shop, and may not offer the savings customers assume they’re getting. Last year, the chain operated 34,000 stores across the nation, and hopes to grow to 51,000 locations.
Kennedy Smith, senior researcher at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, said in Indiana, the chains are meeting resistance as Hoosiers wise up to what is being called the “dollar store invasion.”
“And from communities in particular that are opposing proposed dollar stores, I’ve heard from Crawfordsville, Elkhart, Kokomo, Marion Township, Monroe County, Princeton,” Smith outlined. “All of these places are either in the process of fighting, or have successfully fought off, a proposed dollar store.”
The report found the rapid expansion creates a widening economic hardship, especially in areas such as Black and Latino neighborhoods, squeezing out local businesses and not offering enough healthy food choices to customers.
The report showed the stores are prime targets for crime because they are understaffed, and a lack of manpower leads to aisles cluttered with unboxed merchandise which can create unnecessary hazards for customers and employees. Smith argued it is time for local governments and Congress to take some action.
“One thing that people who are upset about dollar stores coming into their communities in Indiana can do is pick up their phones and call their members of Congress, and ask for them to look into this,” Smith urged. “There are some members of Congress from other states that have begun to look at dollar-store practices. So, I think we’re going to see this beginning to pick up a bit.”
Dollar General disagreed with the report findings. The company said its customers depend on the chain to stretch budgets, especially during times of high inflation.