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April 4, 2023

Watch ‘em dollar stores

The demise of the high street as the once vibrant heartbeat of our towns and villages has been a concern for years. But as the poundstretcher budget stores and payday lenders move into the empty shop units, they are usually regarded as a proxy for a wider downturn in the economy rather than being in any way directly responsible for the decline. Interesting report from the US which investigates the predatory behaviour of ‘Dollar Stores’ and which suggests twin action is required both from within the communities affected and from the government.

Stacy Mitchell, Kennedy Smith, and Susan Holmberg

Dollar General, Dollar Tree, and Family Dollar are targeting vulnerable communities, opening stores at a breakneck pace in urban and rural areas alike. It’s tempting to assume that these chains simply fill a need in cash-strapped places. But the evidence suggests that dollar stores are not merely byproducts of economic distress; they are a cause of it. Through predatory tactics, the dollar chains are killing off grocery stores and other local businesses, leaving communities with fewer jobs, diminished access to basic goods, and dimmer prospects for overall well-being.
As these losses mount, dollar stores are facing a rising tide of grassroots opposition. Over the last couple of years, scores of cities and towns have blocked the chains from opening new stores. Local action alone is not enough, however. Federal policymakers also need to address the ways in which misguided policies, particularly those governing antitrust and finance, are fueling the destructive proliferation of dollar stores.

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