People Making 6 Figures Are Shopping at Dollar Stores — Here’s What They Are Buying

"Miles and Miles of shelves of no-name stationary products, candles, flowers, summer items.
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With inflation at a four-decade high and Americans’ wallets being hard hit, wealthier shoppers are now also turning to Dollar General, according to CEO Todd Vasos.

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Speaking at a retail conference on Sept. 7, Vasos said that the chain has been attracting shoppers with a yearly income of $100,000 in recent weeks.

“The highest trade-in that we’ve seen and the most robust has actually been between the $75,000 and $100,000 group,” Vasos said at the retail conference, according to CNN, adding that some of these wealthier customers first shopped at Dollar General earlier in the pandemic and are now returning.

A full 90% of Americans say they are concerned about food prices, according to a Harris Poll survey, while a survey from Numerator shows that inflation is indeed changing shoppers’ habits.

For example, dollar stores are seeing more high-income shoppers — which the survey describes as people with income greater than $80,000 — who are also switching to save. The Numerator survey found that dollar store sales are up by about 14% versus a year ago.

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“As the cost of everyday goods continues to rise, consumers are shopping around to find value,” Eric Belcher, CEO of Numerator, said in a press release. “Many of these shifts, including high-income households trading down to dollar stores, are unexpected.”

Dollar General rivals are also noticing the change. In August, Dollar Tree CEO Mike Witynski said that the majority of the chain’s new customers have an annual household income of more than $80,000, according to a transcript of an earnings call.

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In August, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said that the chain is seeing more middle and higher-income shoppers, according to a transcript of an earnings call. Indeed, about three-quarters of the company’s second quarter market share gains in food came from customers with an annual household income of $100,000 or more, CFO John David Rainey told CNBC in August.

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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