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Dollar General Slammed for Understaffed Stores After Shopper Is Locked Inside

This has been an ongoing problem for the discount retailer.

From a lack of grocery staples such as eggs to a run on popular prescriptions like Adderall, product shortages have been affecting shoppers left and right. But this is not the only issue impacting consumers these days. Retailers are also struggling to keep their stores adequately staffed—and this has not gone unnoticed. In fact, one customer recently reported that she was locked in a Dollar General store as the result of a lack of workers. Read on to find out why the discount retailer is being slammed for its understaffed stores.

READ THIS NEXT: 5 Warnings to Shoppers From Ex-Dollar General Employees.

Staffing has been a struggle for retailers recently.

Retail Employees at the Register

In reaction to the pandemic, retail workers vacated their positions in masse in 2021, leaving a significant number of unfilled job openings. Then starting this last winter, many retailers decreased their seasonal hiring plans and announced major layoffs to cut costs, Forbes reported. According to the magazine, this vicious cycle is leaving stores understaffed and customers with more frustration than ever before.

"Retailers are already running fairly lean. How can retailers deliver the customer service promised and do it in a cost-effective manner with even fewer people? When customers are unhappy in the store, they go home and order it online," Rod Sides, global leader of financial advisory firm Deloitte, told Forbes. "If you don't have enough labor, retailers are going to drive people away from the store and push them online, not because they don't want to buy there but because they want a better experience."

A customers says she was locked in a Dollar General due to this problem.

customers walking out of dollar general
Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock

Staffing challenges have already started to create issues for workers and shoppers alike. On Feb. 11, Kat Timberlake posted a video to her TikTok account @mrstimberlake2011 where she can be seen filming inside of a Dollar General store. "Well good morning and happy Saturday," she said to start the video. "I am currently locked in a Dollar General right now."

According to Timberlake, she was locked inside of the store with other shoppers in order to allow the sole employee working the opportunity to go use the restroom. "The Dollar General that I'm at there is one person working—one person. And she had to use the bathroom," she said, explaining that the worker had first tried to have customers step out of the store so she could lock the doors and go but one shopper wouldn't leave.

"Store full of people but I felt compelled to be at the front to be top flight security… I'm just like looking at the door to make sure people don't get out, don't get in," Timberlake said. "But again, she's gotta use the bathroom. There are people that are at work right now that cannot go and use the f****** bathroom. Do better."

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Many shoppers are slamming the retailer for understaffed stores.

The Dollar General and CVS Pharmacy stores in the Swissvale Shopping center on a sunny summer day

Timberlake's TikTok video, which now has over 42,000 views, sparked conversation in the comment section about Dollar General and understaffed stores. "These companies shouldn't get away with just having one person working," one user commented. In a response to this, another user claimed to have worked for Dollar General and experienced this issue firsthand: "It happened to me so many times working for them. Worked doubles alone for three weeks straight for $11 per hour as an [assistant store manager]," they wrote.

Other shoppers also said they've been put in similar situations as Timberlake while at the discount retailer's stores. "Same thing happened to me at my local Dollar General," one user wrote. Another user pointed out more ways they've had to adapt because of a lack of staff at this retailer's stores. "Our Dollar General only has one employee so every customer uses the self checkout so she can work around the store," they wrote.

More users also took to the comments to slam Dollar General and its treatment of employees in general. "Dollar General constantly does this. I used to work there too. It's awful," one user wrote. Another added, "Dollar General treats their employees horribly. I always chat with them, and they are super short-handed and way taken advantage of!"

Dollar General has also felt push back from its workers for this.

dollar general sign

Best Life has reached out to Dollar General about these recent customer complaints over understaffed stores but has not yet heard back. Some of the retailer's workers in South Carolina went on a two-day strike because of this problem last month, however. In January, employees of a "dangerously understaffed" Dollar General in Irmo walked out, demanding that the company "hire more staff so there is never only one person working at a time, especially on closing shifts," local Fox-affiliate WACH reported.

Further back in November, another viral TikTok video showcased a Dollar General assistant manager talking about the stress of staffing shortages, and the company's failure to address it, as well. "My store manager is overwhelmed. We don't have enough staff, and my district manager doesn't do anything about it," TikTok user Travis Bennett said. "All she does is keep putting pressure on [my manager], until then the manager puts pressure on everybody else, and they quit. That's why we don't have any employees."

Kali Coleman
Kali Coleman is a Senior Editor at Best Life. Her primary focus is covering news, where she often keeps readers informed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date on the latest retail closures. Read more
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