Only 10 states in the country don’t have a Dollar General store, but with Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rick Dreiling leading the way, that probably won’t be for long. Propelled by limited SKUs and a rock-bottom price focus, the company has expanded rapidly through a rocky economy, opening 625 new stores and remodeling or relocating 575 stores last year.
The expansion will continue into 2012 with 625 new stores and 550 remodels slated. The Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based chain had 10,052 stores at the end of the first quarter this year, Dreiling said during a conference call last month.
“We just posted a record first quarter, and I’m looking forward to capturing our opportunities for growth as we provide our customers with everyday low prices in a convenient format,” Dreiling told SN.
Dollar General has also modified its footprint, testing large-format stores, referred to by the company as “Dollar General Plus,” which are larger than the typical Dollar General store format but smaller than the Dollar General Market banner that offers perishables.
“Our customer is asking for more from Dollar General,” Dreiling said. “As such, we are testing a slightly larger format where the opportunity makes sense to allow for more coolers, wider aisles and a better in-stock position.”
The large format has been driving larger baskets, Dreiling said in June during the conference call. On top of larger baskets, Dollar General can boast increased transactions and boosted sales per square foot — a record high of $209 in 2011.
Fiscal 2011’s 6% same-store sales growth marks the 22nd consecutive year of growth for Dollar General, Dreiling said.
The retailer has focused on private-label brands with a large chunk of its 10,000 SKUs dedicated to proprietary and store-brands.
“Throughout the store, nearly 2,900 SKUs are a Dollar General private or proprietary brand now.”
In addition to private-label offerings, beer has been making its way into more stores — 3,900 — since the retailer first started the introduction in 2009.
“Our goal is to have [beer] available to customers in about half of our stores eventually,” Dreiling said, noting it has been well received by customers.