Dollar General and Five Below Are Making These Major Upgrades Based on Shopper Feedback
THESE DISCOUNT RETAILERS ARE COMMITTED TO GETTING CUSTOMERS IN STORES.
Consumers are still being cautious these days. When inflation hit record highs last summer, most shoppers started pulling back on their unnecessary spending. And while retailers saw some reprieve at the beginning of 2023, it was short-lived. Retail sales fell back down in February, so it seems companies will have to put the work in to get customers to spend money in their stores this year. With major upgrades on the horizon, Dollar General and Five Below recently revealed that they're trying to do just that. Read on to find out what new changes are coming for these discount retailers based on shopper feedback.
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Dollar General has been criticized for understaffing stores.
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It may seem like shoppers would be quick to switch to discount retailers during a time in which saving money has become so important. But Dollar General has faced its fair share of criticism from consumers recently, which may be impacting its ability to pull people in. A now-viral TikTok posted in February detailed one shopper's experience of being locked inside a Dollar General store due to a lack of staff.
"The Dollar General that I'm at there is one person working—one person. And she had to use the bathroom," Kat Timberlake, posting under the username @mrstimberlake2011, explained in her video. Other people sounded off in the comment section, slamming the retailer for understaffed stores. "Our Dollar General only has one employee so every customer uses the self checkout so she can work around the store," one person wrote. Another commented, "These companies shouldn't get away with just having one person working."
But new upgrades may help alleviate this issue.
It seems that Dollar General has likely heard the complaints from customers. The discount company just revealed that it is planning to invest an additional $100 million into its stores, particularly in regards to staffing, The Wall Street Journal reported. Dollar General CEO Jeff Owen announced the bump up for its spending budget during an earnings call on March 16. According to Owen, the company's recent sales numbers have fallen below expectations—in part due to a "slight decrease in customer traffic" at its stores.
"This investment will primarily consist of incremental labor hours to support our expectations regarding consistent store standards while further enhancing the associate and customer experience," he said. "In turn, we believe this investment will position us to drive greater on-shelf availability and capture additional market share while amplifying the potential of our initiatives and ensuring our readiness for our growing customer base."
Best Life has reached out to Dollar General for further information on these improvement plans, and we will update this story with their response.
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Five Below is also planning its own improvements.
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Dollar General is not the only discount chain with new changes on the horizon. Five Below is planning to expand its Five Beyond store-in-store concept to more locations this year, Retail Dive reported. This initiative allows the retailer to offer higher-end items that go beyond its typical $1 to $5 price point. Five Below CEO Joel Anderson confirmed the expansion efforts during an earnings call on March 15.
"Our goal is for Five Beyond everywhere," Anderson said, announcing plans to convert 400 more locations to the new format this year. "As we continue to open locations and expand Five Beyond conversions to 400 stores in 2023, we are bringing our brand to more and more people."
Best Life has reached out to Five Below for further information on these expansion plans, and we will update this story with their response.
The company says customers are spending more with the Five Beyond concept.
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Like Dollar General's improvement plans, this upgrade also appears to be in line with what shoppers want. After all, Five Below is a "merchandise-drive company," Anderson said, adding that this makes them "passionate about sourcing an incredible trend-right assortment for our customers" at a discounted cost. "We stay on top of hot trends and swiftly move to capitalize on them."
The Five Beyond concept was introduced in March 2022, and the retailer converted nearly 250 stores into this format last year, according to Anderson. So currently 20 percent of its store fleet includes the Five Beyond selection—which has proven to be a successful upgrade for the company has as whole. "Customers who buy a Five Beyond item, defined as $6 and above, continue to spend over twice as much as those who buy only Five Below items," Anderson explained.
According to the CEO, these results from shoppers have been "illustrating how powerful a driver these store conversions and Five Beyond products are to maximizing the productivity of our stores."