- Dollar General plans to hire as many as 20,000 new staffers across its store, distribution, transportation and corporate operations, the discounter said in a press release Wednesday.
- That includes workers at all levels for its stores, from part-time sales associates to regional directors and district managers; staffers for its traditional and DG Fresh distribution centers; drivers for its private truck fleet; and staffers for its corporate store support center near Nashville, Tennessee.
- Dollar General's hiring blitz follows plans to open more than 1,000 new stores in 2021. COO Jeff Owen said recently that the company could add another 17,000 stores to its footprint in the long run, which would double its current total.
The brick-and-mortar doldrums, such as they are, have been happening far away from Dollar General, which has been building out at a furious pace with no end in sight.
The dollar store chain was among those that thrived during the pandemic as an essential business allowed to stay open last spring, benefiting from consumers' tendency to consolidate trips even after discretionary stores reopened. For fiscal 2020, Dollar General's sales increased 21.6% year over year to $33.7 billion, while net income hit nearly $2.7 billion.
Pre-COVID, Dollar General took advantage of a long-running bifurcation in retail, with consumers migrating to value and low prices on the one hand or to luxury on the other. That bifurcation has tracked with growing inequality in the country, exacerbated by two major recessions in the past two decades. CEO Todd Vasos told the Wall Street Journal in 2017 that the economy, amid an uneven recovery for rural areas, was "continuing to create more of our core customer."
According to Coresight Research, store openings across retail are outpacing closures for the first time in years. And Dollar General accounts for nearly a third of the openings so far. That is a testament to the strength of Dollar General, which has built out a food offering along with other features in its stores to draw in customers.
It's also a sign of economic weakness and a shrinking middle class in many rural and urban areas, where customers are extremely price sensitive. At the same time, Dollar General is also chasing newer customers with higher incomes with its Popshelf concept, which it is quickly expanding.
Beyond Popshelf, Dollar General's massive store base and broad offer makes it a convenient one-stop destination, meaning it can draw in shoppers across income levels in the areas where it operates.
"Notably the main loser in this dynamic is Walmart, which also has a strong store footprint and has, traditionally, been the go-to for many rural shoppers," GlobalData managing director Neil Saunders said in March comments.
"Over the longer term, Dollar General’s strategy is sound," Saunders added. "Despite its enormous number of stores, it still has scope for more openings. It is expanding produce selections in some shops, to give it more of a destination status and make the experience more engaging."
With the most recent hiring blitz, Dollar General makes clear it is serious about expanding on its strengths.