According to the latest data from foot traffic analytics company Placer.ai, visits to dollar stores went up by 13.2 percent between the first (Q1) and second (Q2) quarters of 2022. Its overall findings found that foot traffic to discount and dollar stores remains above pre-pandemic levels.
The company analyzed foot traffic from four establishments: Five Below, Dollar Tree, Dollar General and the latter's subsidiary Family Dollar.
"In the early days of COVID, dollar and discount stores were one of the few retail categories that remained open as essential businesses, which led many shoppers to discover the value priced one-stop-shops – and these shoppers have been coming back ever since," Placer.ai said.
All four discount stores saw more visits in Q2 2022, with Family Dollar and Five Below reporting double-digit growth. The analytics firm said this rise in the number of quarterly visits "indicates that the leading brands can continue to expand to meet heightened demand."
Placer.ai also observed an increase in evening visits for Q2 2022 – between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. – in all four dollar stores it observed. During the pandemic, most Americans opted to shop in the middle of the day as remote working setups gave them newly flexible schedules. The increase in evening visits, the company explained, "indicates that consumers have returned to some of their pre-pandemic behavior and are back to fitting their shopping in after work rather than mid-day."
"Foot traffic to dollar and discount stores increased over the pandemic, and Q2 2022 data indicates that visits to the category are still significantly higher than they were pre-COVID, with the current economic challenges driving visits up even further," the company said.
"To respond to the heightened demand, many brands are expanding their store fleet – which is setting the category up for even greater long-term success."
Placer.ai also mentioned that "many of the leading discount and dollar stores" – including the four it observed – expanded their respective physical footprints in 2021. This expansion continued into 2022, a sign that the establishments "are catering to a ready and eager clientele."
Dollar General took the top spot of retailers that announced new store openings in 2022, with 1,102 locations in the pipeline. The discount chain, which operates around 18,000 stores in the country, also announced 25 closures.
Earlier in March, Dollar General said it plans to create as many as 10,000 new jobs in 2022. It also mentioned plans to expand outside the U.S. by means of 10 planned stores in Mexico to be finished by the end of the 2022 fiscal year.
Dollar Tree, meanwhile, raised its minimum price point to $1.25 instead of the $1 price. A November 2021 press release by the company confirmed the move, adding that the decision to raise minimum prices had been on the table since late summer of that year.
"For 35 years, Dollar Tree has managed through inflationary periods to maintain the everything-for-one-dollar philosophy that distinguished Dollar Tree and made it one of the most successful retail concepts for three decades," the company stated. "However, this is the appropriate time to shift away from the constraints of the $1.00 price point in order to continue offering extreme value to customers."
The press release mentioned that the permanent $1.25 price point "will apply to a majority of Dollar Tree's assortment." It added that the discount store "is focused on aggressively executing its plan to roll out the new price point across the chain with speed, clarity and focus."
"Lifting the $1 constraint represents a monumental step for our organization," said Dollar Tree President and CEO Michael Witnyski. "We are enthusiastic about the opportunity to meaningfully improve our shoppers' experience and unlock value for our stakeholders."
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