Dollar General & Food Banks

The Lempert Report
July 12, 2023

When you look at Dollar General's stock, the shares fell 20% after their earnings call and basically what they're saying is when high and middle-income shoppers feel strained, they tend to shift their spending, buying a chicken instead of beef, for example, but when Dollar General's core customers feel strained, they pull back completely. That's the difference between the Dollar Store customer CEO Jeff Owens said. Unfortunately, our customers are saying they're having to rely more on food banks, savings and credit cards. So what do you think? Does this mean Dollar Store, their run is over?

Sally: Well, I certainly hope not, because this is an important outlet for a certain customer. Their core customer makes less than $40,000 a year, and now it is alarming to hear that these customers are having to pull back, which could be because of reduced SNAP benefits or reductions on their tax refunds. But either way, if they're pulling back, then it is an indication that we are experiencing more food insecurity. So I think all retailers need to look at this customer and how we can help them shop in an affordable way.

Phil: Absolutely, and when we look, they also did a study that found that 13% of consumers experienced out of stocks. That's compared to 22% in January, so that's good news. Local food spending up 5% over last year. Inflation is 4%, so it's up just a tiny bit. And what they found is that there were unique differences between those who were employed and unemployed adults as to how often they eat at home versus eating out. They had expected that those who work on a regular basis have a higher income to change their food consumption, but that didn't really happen. So it's going to be an interesting space to watch how dollar stores either come back from this. We've seen a lot of activity in dollar stores, especially getting into healthier items, especially getting into more produce, and the question is going to be whether all this is going to put that on hold, which I certainly hope not, because that population needs healthier foods and affordable prices probably more than anybody else.