Retail

Why All The Cool (Affluent) Kids Are Shopping At the Dollar Store

If you were asked to describe the average Dollar Store consumer, most people are likely to think of the phrases "working class" or "low income."

But as it turns out, the dollar stores (Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, Dollar General, etc) are increasingly attracting a set of buyers that may surprise most: young affluent shoppers merely looking for a bargain. Shoppers like Victoria Marin, who was recently profiled in Reuters. Despite a household income of around $150,000, Marin has become a dedicated devotee of dollar store shopping.

"As years passed and my family grew, I realized I could buy the same items at a dollar store for a fraction of the price," said Marin, whose family of six lives in upstate New York.

Millennials like Marin, particularly those entering into the expensive child rearing years, are increasingly likely to look for discounts on day-to-day goods so that spending on bigger-ticket items (think: houses and cars) is a more realistic possibility.

And the dollar stores are noticing. Dollar General Corp, the second-largest dollar store chain after Dollar Tree, called out this the millennial demographic as a key contributor to its revenue in its post-earnings call last month.

Of the millennials who shopped at Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores, almost a third made more than $100,000 a year. The demographic accounts for about one-quarter of in-store sales, according to market researcher NPD's Checkout Tracking.

And this is good news for all those dollar store brands that have worked hard in the post recession era to expand their image as a place where the low-income go to shop.

"I get a lot of toiletries (at Dollar Tree), and those aren't always name brands," said Eric Brantner, a 33-year-old freelance copywriter from Houston who makes roughly $100,000 a year. "For instance, the cotton swabs aren't Q-Tips, but they work just as well and are less than half the price."

And besides being cheaper, they are increasingly accessible. There are 12,700 Dollar General locations in the U.S., while Dollar Tree runs 14,000 stores in the Unites States and Canada. They are often the most accessible store no matter where one happens to live.

The group of those under 35 who are earning over $100,000 and shopping at a dollar store grew by 7.1 percent last year, according to Nielsen data, as opposed to 3.6 percent at all retail stores.

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