Dollar Stores in a Digital Age: Shopper Attitudes & Behaviors [Survey]

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Dollar stores are a ubiquitous feature of the U.S. retail landscape.

Alone, Dollar General and Family Dollar account for over 20,000 stores across the country.

Not even McDonald’s boasts that many units.

 

Shopper Attitudes, Behaviors toward Dollar Stores

 

This weekend Field Agent surveyed 500 shoppers about their attitudes and behaviors toward dollar stores.

One objective was to understand the omnichannel potential of the dollar store model. Today, scores of retailers are developing more sophisticated omnichannel capabilities, as they seek to serve shoppers seamlessly over multiple channels—in-store, online, and mobile, most notably.

But is there an omnichannel future for dollar stores, we wondered?

 

Below we share some of the results from the survey as a 15-question, quick-fire Q&A. And as the video below shows, we also conducted a dollar store shopalong with a handful of agents. 

 

 Actual Agent Photos of Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar 

Quick-Fire Q&A: Dollar Stores

 

1. How many people shop at dollar stores?

97% of respondents in our survey shop at dollar stores: 34% do so “often,” 39% “sometimes,” and 24% “rarely.”

 

2. How does age and income level influence dollar store usage?

31% of Millennials said they “rarely” or “never” shop at dollar stores compared to 17% of Boomers. Moreover, 46% of shoppers with a household income under $35,000 said they “often” shop at dollar stores, in contrast to 30% in the above $50,000 income category.

 

3. Which major dollar store chains are tops among shoppers?

In our survey, 81% of survey respondents said they shop at Dollar Tree, while 64% shop at Dollar General and 53% at Family Dollar.  

 

4. What do shoppers purchase from dollar stores?

Respondents said they purchase party supplies (56%) at dollar stores more often than any other product category, with home cleaning supplies (56%), candy/gum (51%), office/school supplies (48%), and salty snacks (45%) rounding out the top 5.

 

5. When do shoppers visit dollar stores? 

At 46%, “to save money during tight times” was the top occasion for shopping at dollar stores, followed by “for holiday purchases/special occasions” (43%), “to save time when I’m in a hurry” (42%), and “to purchase just 1-2 items for daily living that I’m out of” (41%).

 

6. What do shoppers like most about dollar stores?

Prices. Low prices (63%) and simple pricing schemes (e.g., everything in $1 increments; 63%) crested the list for things shoppers like most about dollar stores.

 

7. What do shoppers like least about dollar stores?

The store environment, including store cleanliness (40%), the clientele (26%), and store atmosphere (25%).

 

8. How do private label brands fare at dollar stores?

30% in our study reported purchasing private label brands from dollar stores.

 

 

 

9. What sentiment do shoppers associate with dollar stores?

Almost half (49%) said they feel “satisfied,” and 40% feel “smart,” when shopping at dollar stores. An additional 30% reported “relief”—as in, “I’m relieved I didn’t have to go to a larger, busier store.” Yet 23% said they feel “cheap” shopping at dollar stores.

Actual Agent Photos of Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar

 

10. Do shoppers use digital services offered by dollar stores?

47% indicated using one or more digital services offered by dollar stores—from the basic (e.g., visiting a dollar store’s website) to the more sophisticated (e.g., using a dollar store’s mobile app to download coupons).

 

11. How many have purchased items from a dollar store’s website?

Only 3% in our survey have made a purchase from a dollar store’s website for home package delivery.

 

12. How many have downloaded a dollar store’s mobile app?

6% said they have downloaded a dollar store’s app to their smartphone, with the same number saying they’ve used the app while inside the store. Likewise, 5% have used a dollar store’s app to view, download, or use coupons.  

 

13. What omnichannel services would shoppers find most appealing for dollar stores to offer?

Shoppers were presented 5 increasingly common omnichannel services (e.g., in-store pickup, curbside pickup) and asked how appealing they find each option. More than half (57%) of shoppers said they find the possibility of a dollar store smartphone app—offering the ability to download coupons, locate stores, and shop via their phone—either “extremely” or “very” appealing, making it the most appealing omnichannel possibility in the survey.

 

14. What would shoppers buy from dollar stores either online or through a smartphone app?

At 38%, home cleaning supplies was the most commonly selected category for online or app purchase, followed by toilet paper/paper towels (36%), office/school supplies (36%), party supplies (35%), and laundry/dishwashing supplies (34%).  

 

15. How eager are shoppers for dollar stores to start adding more digital, omnichannel services?

32% said they’re either “extremely” or “very” eager for dollar stores to join the omnichannel age and start offering more digital services. In contrast, 41% said they’re only “slightly eager” or “not at all eager.”

 

Free Report: Explore Today's Digital Shoppers

 

Based on studies with thousands of shoppers, Field Agent’s special report, “The Digital Shopper: Insights into Today’s Most ‘Connected’ Customers,” offers a data-driven, shopper-centered look at online retail. Special features include:

  • The digital shopper’s journey: before, during, and after shopping for groceries online
  • Shoppers try and rate Instacart delivery
  • The product detail page: a shopper-guided tour
  • Shoppers compare PDPs on Walmart.com VS Amazon.com
  • Shoppers try and rate Amazon Lockers at Whole Foods Market

Best of all, the report is free.

The Digital Shopper Report: Free Download