Dollar General enters the retail 'labor hoarding' war with a $100 million investment to boost scheduled hours for employees

A Dollar General store in California
Dollar General says it has raised wages by 23% over the past three years.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
  • Discount retailer Dollar General is the latest employer to join the industry's "labor hoarding" war.

  • The company said it will spend $100 million to increase the number of scheduled hours for store employees

  • Average wages have already gone up 23% in the past three years — similar to raises at Walmart and Kroger.

Retail's "labor hoarding" war now has a General — Dollar General, that is.

The Tennessee-based discount store brand said Thursday it, too, will spend big cash this year to attract and retain its workers, following similar moves from major brands like Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Lowe's, Kroger, and more. Retailers are taking, in some cases, extraordinary measures to "hoard"  workers so they won't be short-staffed when the economy picks up – even as companies in other sectors are laying people off in droves.

CEO Jeff Owen told investors to expect an additional investment of approximately $100 million in 2023 as the company aims to boost scheduled hours for store associates.

Owen pointed out that the focus on hours comes after a 23% wage increase over the past three years — a comparable rate to what other retail employers have reported in recent weeks — though he declined to disclose what the company's average wage currently is.

CFO John Garratt asked investors to bear with the squeeze this will have on the company's budget, saying, "we believe it is the right thing for the business and will drive stronger in-store execution, positioning us well to build on the momentum we have with our customers."

Owen said shoppers should start to see improvements in store standards, as well as in-stock and on-shelf availability.

Rolltainers full of candy, toilet paper, and other dry goods sit in cage-like rolltainers outside of a Dollar General store in Minnesota. Snow and ice from a recent storm are visible on the ground.
Rolltainers full of candy, toilet paper, and other dry goods sit in cage-like rolltainers outside of a Dollar General store in Minnesota.Insider source

Keeping shelves stocked and unpacking inventory has been a problem for many Dollar General locations. Some stores have been so overwhelmed by inventory that fire marshals have cited them for safety violations and ordered the locations to close until they can remedy them. The chain has also accumulated $15 million in fines from OSHA for problems including fire code violations.

Several Dollar General employees at stores around the US have since told Insider that management has not allotted their locations enough hours to unpack the inventory and meet other demands of running the store, such as working the register.

For workers, higher hourly wages aren't worth much without enough hours scheduled to earn a substantial paycheck, so the additional available hours could lead to meaningfully higher annual earnings.

The median Dollar General worker was a part-time store associate who earned $17,773 in 2021, according to the company's most recently available proxy filing.

"The other thing you've got to remember is where our stores are located — they're located in rural communities," Owen said Thursday. "75% are in communities of 20,000 or less, and we provide career growth opportunities that are unmatched in retail."

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