Dollar General Revamps Stores to Fight Back Against Theft

In the grand theater of retail, Dollar General has decided to play the role of the strict warden, cracking down on theft with an arsenal of measures that would make even the Ocean’s Eleven crew think twice. Faced with rampant retail theft, the popular chain is rolling out a series of strategic changes aimed at curbing what CEO Todd Vasos diplomatically calls “shrink.” And by shrink, he means the significant hit their bottom line takes when shoplifters run amok.

On the chopping block are frequently stolen items, which will be ceremoniously banished from store shelves. Imagine your favorite candy bar or that elusive pack of batteries being yanked from the front lines because they’re too tempting for sticky fingers. But the real kicker? Dollar General is also saying goodbye to self-checkout options in thousands more stores. That’s right—no more sneaking an extra item past the scanner while you pretend to fumble with your wallet.

During a recent earnings call, Vasos didn’t mince words. “Shrink continues to be the most significant headwind,” he declared, painting a picture of a company under siege. The solution? An end-to-end approach to shrink reduction that spans the entire organization—from supply chain tweaks to in-store strategies that would make Fort Knox’s security look amateurish.

Back in May, Dollar General had already converted 3,000 stores away from self-checkout, bringing the grand total to 12,000 locations since the fiscal year began. In March, the company outlined an ambitious plan to remove self-checkout from 300 stores plagued by the worst theft issues, and converted self-checkout registers to assisted-checkout in about 9,000 stores. It’s like replacing an unsupervised playground with a closely monitored exam hall.

Despite these sweeping changes, don’t expect immediate results. Vasos cautioned that while these steps represent a significant shift, the real dividends will come later. “We believe this is the right course of action to drive increased customer engagement while also better positioning us to begin reducing shrink in the back half of ’24 with a more material positive impact expected in 2025,” he explained. It’s a long game, folks.

The battle plan doesn’t stop there. Dollar General’s supply chain teams are working around the clock to ensure timely deliveries, while merchants are busy reducing inventory levels to minimize exposure to theft. Meanwhile, those “high shrink” items—anything that seems to walk out the door on its own—will be carefully pruned from inventory.

The financial impact of this war on theft is already evident. For the quarter ending March 31, gross profit as a percentage of sales fell to 30.2%, a decrease of 145 basis points. This drop was driven by a perfect storm of increased shrink, markdowns, a greater mix of consumable sales, and lower inventory markups. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but one that Dollar General hopes will lead to a healthier balance sheet in the long run.

As Dollar General wages its campaign against theft, shoppers might notice some changes on their next visit. Whether it’s fewer self-checkout lanes or missing high-theft items, the message is clear: the days of easy pickings are over. So if you’re planning a shopping spree, just remember—Dollar General is watching.

Photo Credit: Mike Mozart
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Maya Kevin

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Last edited 9 days ago by Maya Kevin

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Last edited 9 days ago by vokeda810