Dollar General Cuts Worker Hours—What That Means for Your Shopping Experience
Current and former employees say that there's a series of negative effects.
When you're on a budget, dollar stores offer a welcome alternative to grocery stores and even big-box retailers like Walmart and Target. You can often get your groceries and household necessities at a more affordable price, saving you a bit of extra cash every week. But now, one of the major players in the dollar store market, Dollar General, is reportedly cutting hours for employees, which will have a direct impact on your shopping experience—in ways that you may not expect. Read on to find out what employees say are the unintended consequences of Dollar General's recent moves.
Employees say their hours were first cut last year.
In conversation with Insider, several Dollar General employees reported that their hours have been cut. One worker in Michigan said the cuts started a year ago, while others in the Midwest said their hours were cut at the beginning of 2023.
"For most people, it takes away needed hours and needed money," one employee told Insider.
The employee from Michigan explained that a smaller staff is particularly problematic during the mornings: When the stores first open, there may only be one worker responsible for the entire store. Not only is this stressful and inconvenient for those on the clock, but it also has cascading effects on how stores are run and organized, employees said.
There just aren't enough employees to take care of everything that needs to be done.
As a result of understaffing, Dollar General employees told Insider that inventory just piles up. Essentially, there aren't enough employees working on any given shift to assist customers and unpack new inventory (which is delivered to stores every week).
"The small back rooms are of course a problem, but they would be much less of an issue if stores were allotted enough hours to have employees stock trucks when they come in," a former Dollar General employee in Arizona told Insider.
Because there aren't enough workers at any given time, aisles are crammed with excess inventory that employees haven't had a chance to put away, creating a rather unpleasant browsing experience for shoppers.
In fact, over the past few years, this has just gotten worse, employees told Insider. A worker at a Dollar General store in Michigan said that their store is "almost used as an extension of the warehouse," noting that after Christmas 2021, they were instructed to hold on to leftover festive inventory until the next holiday season rolled around.
Best Life reached out to Dollar General for comment on employees' statements, and will update the story upon hearing back.
The issue is compounded when more inventory is shipped to stores.
The issue only becomes more complicated, as Dollar General stores just continue to receive deliveries when they're not needed. As an employee told Insider, managers update inventory counts on a biweekly basis, letting the company know whether they need a restock of particular items. But when items have yet to be unpacked, they're not always included in the count.
"If the store is a mess or there isn't enough time, then system numbers become wrong," the ex-employee from Arizona told Insider. "That can lead to stores getting more bottled water and pet food even when their storage rooms or aisles might already be full of those things."
These overcrowded aisles can be tricky to navigate, and they also pose safety hazards for both shoppers and employees.
Officials say that Dollar General's business model lends itself to hazardous and cluttered conditions.
In March, Dollar General was deemed a "severe violator" by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Best Life previously reported. According to The New York Times, OSHA has inspected over 270 Dollar General stores since 2017, citing 111 instances of workplace safety violations. In total, the retailer racked up over $15.5 million in penalties.
OSHA's Assistant Secretary Doug Parker told the NYT that Dollar General's overall business model lends itself to these hazards, pointing to the same issues as employees. According to Parker, stores have leaner staff, and the locations themselves are small but have a high sales volume. Parker said it's often the situation that there aren't enough employees available to unload deliveries and stock shelves, which creates in-store hazards for both workers and shoppers.
In a statement to Insider, Dollar General said, "Our goal is to provide stores with the resources they need, including the appropriate labor budgets, to support our expectations of a clean, well-stocked shopping environment as well as excellent customer service."