2021 Retailers To Watch: Dollar General

From new formats to game-changing omnichannel strategies, and with the coronavirus pandemic impacting all aspects of the industry, the world of retail continued to evolve in 2020 as a number of leading chains and e-commerce pure-plays launched a range of key initiatives in an effort to enhance differentiation from their competitors.

Housewares and home were a focal point for many of these omnichannel-oriented retailers, which worked with leading vendors to launch new assortments ranging from kitchenware to home furnishings.

HomeWorld’s fourth annual Retailers To Watch, in the November 16 issue, takes a look at eight retailers that have made moves to further strengthen their respective businesses heading into 2021 through a range of initiatives, from new omnichannel directions to new retail formats. Selected by the HomeWorld editorial staff, each retailer selected is taking aim at growing top-level sales in the coming year and placing housewares and home at the forefront of their respective growth strategies.

Overview

Dollar General is more than a dollar store and is looking at how it can further use its flexibility to grow in more ways than ever. A few years ago, as Walmart spent some time and effort pursuing more affluent shoppers, Dollar General saw an opportunity, reconfiguring operations that, while still maintaining a majority assortment of one dollar or less goods, included more expensive but still inexpensive goods. After an ill-fated battle with Dollar Tree for the Family Dollar chain, Dollar General has turned to unique strengths to push growth.

What to Watch

Walmart recently has introduced a range of initiatives, including the Walmart+ membership program roll out, which will provide new opportunities but which also move the retailer further from its roots as a simple place to shop bargains. As it has evolved into something closer to that kind of operation, Dollar General has become, in essence, a dollar plus discount store operator. As it has continued to pursue growth, Dollar General has been building an online business, adding stores and looking to entice a new broader range of value shoppers. The COVID-19 pandemic certainly encouraged more consumers to check out Dollar General stores, which remained open as essential retailers. As such, they experienced a string of initiatives that, while not new in the retail world, demonstrate how the company is advancing.

Todd Vasos, Dollar General’s CEO, speaking at the Goldman Sachs Annual Global Retailing Conference, noted that a Dollar General credit card is an amenity used by shoppers who are generally more affluent than the core customer. The company has been upping its omnichannel credentials by completing the rollout of buy online pickup in store through the chain.

In the immediate future, retail bankruptcies will give Dollar General, which plans to open about 1,000 of its on-average 7,500-square-foot stores this year, the chance to pick up real estate at more than reasonable prices. In October, the company developed popshelf, a concept with 95% of goods including home-related merchandise, at $5 or less as an extension of its non-consumables strategy.

In 2017, Dollar General acquired the 323-store Dollar Express chain and has said the move gave it urban shopper insight and opportunity. With a flexible format that can fill in core retail gaps that many communities suffer, or will suffer, given the likelihood of more retail bankruptcies, Dollar General is coming through the COVID-19 crisis pursuing opportunities with a business model it can flex and finetune as necessary. The question for the year ahead is, how much headway can Dollar General make given the opportunities before it? —Mike Duff

2021 Retailers To Watch (click on name for profile)

Crate & Barrel

Lowe’s

Ocean State Job Lot

Macy’s

Kohl’s

eBay

Dollar General

Bed Bath & Beyond