Entry of dollar stores affected rural independent grocery stores more than urban stores

Vertical bar chart showing dollar store entry impact on independent grocery stores by census tract type between 2000 and 2019.

Compared to urban independent grocery stores, rural independent grocery stores were nearly three times more likely to close following the opening of a new dollar store in the same census tract from 2000–19. Using proprietary data from the National Establishment Time Series (NETS) database and the ERS Rural-Urban Commuting Area (RUCA) Codes, researchers from USDA Economic Research Service (ERS), North Dakota State University, and the University of Connecticut examined how entry of new dollar stores in urban and rural census tracts affected the number, employment, and sales statistics of independent grocery stores in these areas from 2000–19. When a new dollar store opened in a rural area, the likelihood of an independent grocery store closing was 5 percent, which was nearly three times greater than in urban areas (1.7 percent). Similarly, the decline in employment at independent grocers in rural census tracts was about 2.5 times as large as in urban tracts (7.1 percent versus 2.8 percent, respectively). Sales declined 9.2 percent at independent grocery stores in rural areas, which was nearly double the decline in urban areas (4.7 percent). Researchers also found that these changes waned in urban areas about 5 years after a new dollar store’s opening, whereas the effects continued in rural areas, indicating longer term impacts. This chart appears in the ERS Amber Waves article, Dollar Store Entry Affects Rural Grocery Stores More Than Urban, published May 2024.

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