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Dollar, discounters lead new store openings in U.S.

Dollar General increased the number of stores getting fresh produce departments, like this one at DGX in Nashville, to 400 stores in 2020, for a total of 1,000 stores in the company’s 17,000-store lineup.

Nearly half of the planned store openings in the U.S. are dollar stores.

That’s according to a recent report from Coresight Research, a firm that aggregates store opening and closure data from company press releases and earnings reports.

Dollar General BB #:172794 is by far the leader, with more than 1000 new stores planned this year, according to the report.

The Goodlettsville, TN-based company has expanded rapidly over the past few years and operates more than 17,000 stores in the U.S. Dollar General opened, remodeled, or relocated 2,800 stores last year, 200 more than the company planned.

The company also is aiming for more groceries in the mix, with a new hybrid format it is calling Dollar General Plus with about 8,500 square feet of selling space — 1,200 square feet more than its traditional stores.

By the end of the year, Dollar General plans to offer fresh produce in about 10 percent of its stores, but the company has rapid expansion in mind through a self-distribution strategy called DG Fresh.

“We also believe that DG Fresh plays a key role in unlocking our ability to do produce in over 10,000 stores as we look ahead,” said COO Jeff Owen in a recent earnings report. “DG Fresh is a complicated initiative that the team did a phenomenal job of implementing and is going to set us up for the future in a big way.”

Batavia, IL-based Aldi Inc. BB #:116756 also made the list of stores with the most new locations planned this year, according to Coresight’s report.

Aldi has announced plans to open 100 stores in 2021, focusing on Arizona, California, Florida, and the Northeast.

While the majority of new store openings are dollar and deep discounters, they appeal to a broad section of U.S. consumers.

“We’ve seen a bifurcation in the economy,” said Ken Fenyo, president and head of advisory and research at Coresight told CNN. “So while the wealthy have done well and continue to do well since the Great Recession, there’s certainly a lot of the population that has not done as well. The dollar stores appeal strongly to that segment of the population. That’s probably the overriding reason we see for the growth in the format.”

Pamela Riemenschneider is the Retail Editor or Blue Book Services.