Americans Earning Over Six Figures Are Shopping at Dollar Stores: Here’s What They’re Putting in Their Cart

By: Ben Campbell | Published: Dec 13, 2023

Americans are in the midst of a brutal four-decade high inflation that’s resulted in unforeseen shopping patterns among some of the nation’s highest earners.

According to Dollar General CEO Todd Vasos, their budget-friendly stores have seen a dramatic increase in wealthier customers, many of whom earn six-figure salaries.

Surprise Market for Dollar Store Chains

Dollar Store has been around since the mid-’50s. When they first opened in the States, they became popular among Americans with a low income. Yet, this has recently changed.

Inside of a Dollar General Store in Fort White, Florida

Source: Excel23/Wikipedia

With the recent financial situation in America, the store, full of budget items, has attracted some of the nation’s wealthiest customers.

CEO Claims Chain Is Attracting Wealthier Americans

During a retail conference last year, Vasos spoke about the recent surge in customers earning at least $100,000 annually.

Dollar General Market store photographed in Clarksville, Tennessee

Source: Mike Kalasnik/Wikipedia

“The highest trade-in that we’ve seen and the most robust has actually been between the $75,000 and $100,000 group,” he said (via CNN).

Pandemic Customers Return to the Chain

According to CNN, there are a few reasons why the nation’s highest earners have decided to opt for dollar stores over supermarkets.

Americans stand 6 feet apart during COVID-19 Restrictions

Source: Freepik

Many of these wealthier customers began shopping at Dollar General during the pandemic, and now they are returning to seek out the budget-friendly options.

Americans Are Concerned with the Ever-Increasing Prices

A recently conducted survey by Harris Poll surmised that 90% of Americans are concerned with rising food prices.

Woman tries to budget as she shops in a local supermarket

Source: Freepik

Another survey carried out by Numerator shows that the recent inflation has dramatically changed the shopping habits of many Americans.

Dollar Store Profits Are Rapidly Climbing

Dollar stores across America have seen a significant rise in the amount of high-income customers. The Numerator survey defines this as people making over $80,000 per year.

A customer shops at a Dollar General store on August 31, 2023, in Chicago, Illinois.

Source: Scott Olson/Getty Images

What they found was that, on average, dollar store sales are up around 14% compared to last year.


Shoppers on the Hunt for a Bargain

Eric Belcher, CEO of Numerator, spoke on what’s driving Americans to change their shopping habits and opt for budget-friendly stores.

Acfamily spends the afternoon shopping for their weekly necessities

Source: Freepik

“As the cost of everyday goods continues to rise, consumers are shopping around to find value,” he said.


Unexpected Changes to Shopping Patterns

According to various market experts and CEOs such as Belcher, such a shift in shopping patterns among wealthier individuals was unexpected.

Young family shop for food at a local supermarket

Source: Freepik

Speaking in a news release, he said, “Many of these shifts, including high-income households trading down to dollar stores, are unexpected” (via The Street).


Dollar Store Rivals Experiencing the Change

Rivals of Dollar General have also noticed an increase in wealthier customers in their stores across America.

A cyclist rides past a Family Dollar store in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago

Source: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Dollar Tree CEO Mike Witynski spoke about the change, claiming that most of the chain’s new customers have an annual income of over $80,000.


What Are The Customers Buying?

A Dollar Tree spokesperson shed insight into what the wealthier customers bought in the budget store.

Mother and daughter head to their local store to shop for frozen food

Source: Freepik

He said the company has seen high-income earners turn to its store for grocery items, frozen goods, and private name brands.


Wealthier Customers Make The Switch

In August, Walmart CEO Doug McMillion said that their stores across America had seen an influx of higher-income earners, according to an earnings call transcript.

View from the exterior of a recently opened Walmart Store in the United States

Source: Walmart Corporate/Wikipedia

This comes amid one of the worst periods of inflation in the United States over the last half-century.


Dramatic Rise in the Sale of Food

Walmart revealed that around three-quarters of the company’s second-quarter market share gains in goods came from their customers.

Family tires to pick out the freshest produce at the supermarket

Source: Freepik

According to CFO John David Rainey, the increase in the sale of food came from customers with an annual household income of $100,000 or more.