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The Dollar General CEO just accidentally made clear how screwed up the economy is

“The economy is continuing to create more of our core customer.”

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Dylan Scott covers health care for Vox. He has reported on health policy for more than 10 years, writing for Governing magazine, Talking Points Memo and STAT before joining Vox in 2017.

Here’s a grim picture of the state of the American economy: The CEO of Dollar General explained to the Wall Street Journal why things are looking up for his company.

Dollar General, with about 14,000 stores across the country and a $22 billion market value, targets customers making $40,000 a year or less. They are expanding, CEO Todd Vasos told the Journal.

Why?

“The economy is continuing to create more of our core customer,” Vasos said.

This is how he described the typical Dollar General customer: “Doesn’t look at her pantry or her refrigerator and say, ‘You know, I’m going to be out of ketchup in the next few days. I’m going to order a few bottles. The core customer uses the last bit of ketchup at the table the night prior, and either on her way to work or on her way home picks up one bottle.”

More from the WSJ feature, which you should read in full:

The retailer relies on rapid store openings to keep revenue climbing and investors happy; 2016 marked its 27th consecutive year of sales growth in stores open at least a year.

While many large retailers are closing locations, Dollar General executives said they planned to build thousands more stores, mostly in small communities that have otherwise shown few signs of the U.S. economic recovery.

The more the rural U.S. struggles, company officials said, the more places Dollar General has found to prosper. “The economy is continuing to create more of our core customer,” Chief Executive Todd Vasos said in an interview at the company’s Goodlettsville, Tenn., headquarters.

“We are putting stores today [in areas] that perhaps five years ago were just on the cusp of probably not being our demographic,” he said, “and it has now turned to being our demographic.”

As I recently recapped, income inequality has been growing for decades in America, with the biggest gains accumulating at the top and the middle class facing stagnation.

Meanwhile, Congress just passed a tax bill that features a massive corporate tax cut and individual tax breaks that independent analyses say would favor the wealthy while eventually, without further intervention by a future Congress, result in a tax increase on the poorest Americans.

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