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Dollar Stores Rejected in Some Towns

More than 70 communities have blocked openings of new discount stores in the last four years




Since 2019, people in more than 70 U.S. cities and towns have organized and successfully blocked new dollar store projects, according to a report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

During that same time, more than 50 cities have enacted laws limiting dollar store expansion, often in conjunction with measures designed to facilitate the expansion of local grocery stores.

Those statistics represent a major uptick from 2015 to 2018, when about 25 communities voted down proposed dollar stores while only six enacted moratoriums or ordinances limiting their growth, notes the institute, an organization critical of corporate retailers and their impact on communities.

“It’s tempting to assume that these chains simply fill a need in cash-strapped places,” says the report, which is titled “The Dollar Store Invasion.” “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.”

The fast-growing retailers involved – mainly Dollar General (Goodlettsville, Tenn.), Dollar Tree (Chesapeake, Va.) and Family Dollar (Charlotte, N.C.) – all disagreed with that assessment in a story about the report that appeared in The New York Times. Example: Dollar Tree said its stores “have helped alleviate ‘food deserts’ and revitalize struggling strip malls by providing an affordable and convenient place to shop.”

Ultimately, shoppers will decide the fate of dollar stores, the Times notes. And right now, “Consumers are voting for dollar stores with their wallets,” Shannon Warner, a Partner in the consumer and retail practice at consulting firm Kearney, told the newspaper.

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