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Dollar stores' secret attractions

Convenience, variety, low prices, quick in and out, close to your home

Special to the Chronicle

If you shop at dollar stores, you aren't alone.

Thousands of Lexington County residents shop anywhere from Big Lots to Dollar General and Dollar Tree.

The pandemic has helped the dollar discount stores.

According to  Colliers International South Carolina, discount store sales jumped during the pandemic.

The stores offer increaed variety at low prices with refrigerated foods and other items.

To consumers they are numerous, smaller, easier to shop and close to home.

“Discount stores are the big winners in the pandemic,” Patrick Nealon of Colliers told Columbia Regional Business Journal.

Dollar General’s net sales for 2020 quarter t3 are up 25% year over year, and that’s huge.”

Dollar Tree and Family Dollar, owned by the same company, have both seen a 10% year-over-year increase.

While Five Below, a chain that sells books, clothes and more under $5, only saw a small rise in its overall sales, it opened 62 locations in 2020 and will continue to open more, Nealon said. The company, which has a location at Mount Pleasant’s Wando Crossing, came into the pandemic well capitalized and Nealon thinks it will come out unscathed by the economy’s downturn.

Nealon said that shoppers were drawn to discount stores because they are located near residential areas.

“During the pandemic, while people are working from home, it’s easier to pop in to a dollar store and pick up smaller things if you’re in a hurry,” Nealon said.

“The smaller footprint of a discount store makes it easier to get in and get out without unnecessary exposure.”

Big Lots' stock surge 60% this year,because they diversify their products, he said.

When other stores temporarily closed during the pandemic, Big Lots stayed open.

As homebound folks looked s to spruce up their homes, they found they could go to Big Lots and buy mattresses, kitchen ware, home decor other essentials in one stop.

Nealon noted that not all discount stores fared as well. 

TJ Maxx and Marshalls’ sales fell off significantly during the pandemic.

“Companies like JC Penney went bankrupt,” he said.

A primary problem for TJ Maxx and Marshalls was supply chain delays.

For anyone who walked in during the pandemic, shelves were bare.

The chains had a hard time getting shipments and even shut down their websites temporarily.

 

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