Today, there are more dollar stores in the United States than all Walmarts and Starbucks combined. These low-priced “small-box” retailers, like Dollar General, offer little to no fresh food—yet they feed more Americans than either Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, and are gaining on the country’s largest food retailers.
Detailing the explosion of dollar stores in rural and low-income areas, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) recently released a report that shows how these retailers exacerbate economic and public health disparities. The report makes the case that dollar stores undercut small rural grocers and hurt struggling urban neighborhoods by staving off full-service markets.
ILSR also argues that the proliferation of dollar stores is the latest outgrowth of an increasingly concentrated grocery sector, where the top four chains—Walmart, Kroger, Ahold-Delhaize, and Albertsons—sell 44 percent of all groceries, and Walmart alone commands a quarter of the market. These dominant chain stores have decimated independent retailers and divested from rural and low-income areas, as well as communities of color.