The Dangers of Dollar Stores and Retail Redlining

Sep 15, 2020

While many areas of the U.S. economy have been hit hard during the coronavirus pandemic; so-called dollar stores are thriving. 


Credit The Wall Street Journal

“It’s a 62% growth in dollar stores since 2008.”

Jerry Shannon is a Professor of Geography at UGA. His research shows those stores might not be the best fit for low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. 

“For many folks who are in these neighborhoods, dollar stores are a really vital resource in the short-term to get the things that they need for today. At the same time, I think in the bigger picture, they’re incredibly problematic because they don't make the kind of longer-term investments in communities, they don't provide the kinds of jobs that get people out of being in precarious situations.”

They can contribute to retail redlining, a term he uses instead of food deserts, which he says are no accidents. 

“Retailer redlining, in contrast, highlights how some of the disparities that we see in the kinds of food access that people have are very much tied to intentional policies particularly around residential segregation.”

Shannon studied 27 different metro areas to see the extent of economic and racial segregation factors.  

“So in African-American neighborhoods, we see somewhere between 25 and 30 percent closer distances to dollar stores in those neighborhoods even compared to White neighborhoods with comparable economic characteristics. In Latino neighborhoods, it’s 17%.”

One positive impact, the stores do provide low-cost goods for shoppers in a financial crunch.