Maine dollar stores now outnumber Walmart, McDonald's, and Starbucks combined

    Dollar Store Domination (WGME)

    STATEWIDE (WGME) - As many brick and mortar stores fight to stay in business, one kind of store is bucking the trend.

    Dollar stores are opening up new locations every day and sales are growing.

    You can call it the dollar store domination as they continue to expand their footprint in Maine.

    There are now more dollar stores in our state than Walmart, McDonald's, and Starbucks combined, and we found consumers of all income levels and ages are shopping at dollar stores.

    To see how popular dollar stores are in Maine, look no further than the Concourse plaza in Waterville.

    On one end there's a Dollar General and on the other end a Dollar Tree.

    Shoppers come by the busload and leave with a bag full.

    "Having 2 stores indicates to me that there is a demand in the greater Waterville area for what they provide. We need retail operations in our downtown area so we are happy for their presence and for the employment they offer," said Waterville City Manager Mike Roy.

    Professor Richard Bilodeau, who teaches business and marketing at the University of Southern Maine told the I-Team "consumers are more and more interested in a value or good bargain."

    Market research from NPD shows a pickup in popularity:

    • Consumer spending at dollar stores is up 7%
    • They're popular with all age groups
    • Nearly a third of dollar store spending comes from households with incomes of $100,000 and higher

    "The dollar store model works because people perceive everything in the store has a very low price point and because it has a very low price point consumers don't have very high expectations," Bilodeau said.

    Dollar stores is the generic term often used for for deep discount chains led by Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, and Dollar General.

    The stores have a combined 156 locations in Maine, many in rural areas.

    • Dollar Tree = 39
    • Dollar General = 54
    • Family Dollar = 63

    By comparison, at last count, Walmart, McDonald's, and Starbucks have a combined 124 locations in Maine.

    Nationwide there are more than 30,000 dollar stores, which is 10,000 more than there were in 2011.

    New dollar stores are opening every day across the country, most recently a new Dollar General in Old Orchard Beach.

    It's a stark contrast to some other stores which are quickly closing their doors and struggling to grow sales.

    At Dollar General, you'll still find dollar deals, but you'll also find higher-priced items like fans and frozen food.

    Family Dollar, which is owned by Dollar Tree, has a similar pricing structure.

    In fact, Dollar Tree is the only store around still selling everything for $1.

    A new Dollar Tree investor says prices need to go up to deliver better deals.

    The I-Team obtained a copy of a letter from Starboard Value to Dollar Tree's CEO and Board of Directors.

    Dollar Tree has kept its prices at $1.00 since its founding thirty years ago, despite the fact that $1.00 in 1986 is worth approximately $2.30 today, due to inflation. However, the value that Dollar Tree has offered its customers has deteriorated because of the need to fit everything into a $1.00 price point. Products today are smaller or of lower quality than they were five, ten, and certainly thirty years ago.

    Dollar Tree wouldn't comment specifically on the suggestion to up its prices but in a statement told the I-Team "Dollar Tree is focused on ensuring our brands are the premier shopping destination for value and convenience."

    Bilodeau said dollar pricing works for consumers because most now see their purchases as disposable.

    "Gone are the days where we think we should make a $100 investment in a pan today that will last the rest of our lives," Bilodeau said.

    Bilodeau said it's important to be a savvy shopper and to check the price per unit to see if you're getting a good deal.

    CLICK HERE to see what we found that could actually cost you more at the dollar store.

    CLICK HERE to see our Facebook live video breaking down the 5 things that will almost always save you money at the dollar store.

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