Dollar stores are becoming an increasingly popular channel, retail watchers report. Discount retailers are one of many stores consumers are turning to as three-quarters of consumers now shop for their consumer product goods in five or more channels, SymphonyIRI reported in its “Times & Trends: New Path to Purchase” webinar.

Across most channels, consumers decreased their basket size, which means fewer purchases per trip, but basket sizes in dollar stores increased 3.8 percent for the year ending June 27, SymphonyIRI reported.

The dollar store format grew dollar sales 16.8 percent to $19.8 billion in 2009, according to Willard Bishop’s annual “Future of Food Retailing” report published in June. The Barrington, Ill.-based firm predicted dollar stores will grow 4.5 percent through 2014, which places the channel third in anticipated growth behind supercenters and limited assortment retailers, such as Aldi and Trader Joe’s.

More consumers are shopping at dollar stores overall, but SymphonyIRI reported mid- to upper-income shoppers are leading the channel’s growth. Beverage Industry’s sister publication PL Buyer featured Dollar General in its June issue in which Rick Dreiling, Dollar General’s chairman and chief executive officer, said the store is seeing more new consumers. Dollar General’s fastest growing group is consumers who make more than $70,000 a year, Dreiling said.

Many discount retailers have increased their fresh food offerings, Willard Bishop reported. Food was one of the leading categories in the second quarter for Dollar Tree Inc., Chesapeake, Va., which reported a 12.7 percent increase in second quarter net sales for a total of $1.38 billion. In March, the chain opened Dollar Tree Market, a concept store that sells fresh foods, housewares and baked goods made on premises.

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