In an action mirroring many of its customers, Dollar General BB #:172794 is pulling back on “nice to have” investments in favor of “need to have” as inflation and income pressures its bottom line.
The Goodlettsville, TN-based company said it is tapping the brakes on expansion for its pOpshelf concept in 2023, reducing the number of stores in the pipeline to 90, down from 150. The concept, which is focused more on urban shoppers with higher incomes, currently has more than 160 stores in 16 states.
“We are reevaluating our plans with regards to our timing of reaching 1,000 stores by the end of 2025 and plan to provide an updated expectation at a later date,” said CEO Jeff Owen, during the company’s earnings call held June 1.
Reductions in SNAP dollars and lower-than-usual tax returns hit Dollar General customers hard, Owen said. That resulted in less discretionary spending, and lower sales in non-consumables.
“Unfortunately, our customers are saying they’re having to rely more on food banks, savings, and credit cards,” Owen said.
One area Dollar General continues to focus on is its DG Fresh, and fresh produce initiatives. DG Fresh has enhanced profitability of perishables for the company, and while it continues to focus on frozen and refrigerated foods, fresh produce is still on the radar.
“While produce is not currently serviced by our internal supply chain, we continue to believe that DG Fresh provides a potential path forward to expanding our produce offering to more than 10,000 stores over time,” Owen said.
By the end of the first quarter, March 31, Dollar General offered fresh produce in nearly 3,900 of 19,000 stores. Owen said the company is on track to expand that number to 5,000 by the end of 2023.