Hardcover and paperback editions of some of the top-ranking books of the last few years have flooded dollar-store shelves. The phenomenon of finding a best-seller in new condition for about a dollar is due to publishers over-ordering copies of a particular book, and in its retail life cycle, that surplus bypasses bookstores and ends up at discount stores.
Though the books are still coming to shelves, consumers who buy necessary items from a Dollar Tree, Dollar General, or 99 Cents Only store, for example, may leave the deeply discounted books behind with shrunken budgets and the price hikes recently put in place due to inflation.
Inflation is the general increase on goods and services across the market. As prices go up at gas stations and in supermarkets, the average consumer budget saved for shopping at dollar stores may just zero in on the essentials, and not on education materials like books.
The top four categories for items bought at dollar stores are food products, personal care items, party supplies, and home goods, according to GOBankingRates.
No mention of books in the financial outlet’s survey, but with summer translating to pool time, the pack of soda and the blow-up floats will be higher priorities for consumers. Buying only the staples for the average shopper may cut aisle browsing as books fall out of view, yet price increases at dollar stores may mean shoppers are not buying items they had purchased before inflation.
Dollar Tree Inc., which operates Dollar Tree stores in the U.S. and Canada and Family Dollar stores in mostly middle-class neighborhoods, increased prices at its nearly 16,000 stores by 25 cents to $1.25.
“We experienced a strong finish to the quarter, as shoppers are increasingly focused on value in this inflationary environment,” said Dollar Tree CEO and president Michael Witynski in a November press release of the $0.25 increase. “Our Dollar Tree pricing tests have demonstrated broad consumer acceptance of the new price point and excitement about the additional offerings and extreme value we will be able to provide.”
On Dollar Tree’s website, consumers can buy a random assortment of 14 adult fiction books. Despite the mixed reviews, if you’re a reader open to books the universe gives you, it could be a fun purchase.
Now that some consumers know they can find decent books at a dollar store, a few resort to reselling these books on Amazon.com and other seller sites at marked-up prices. If you prefer to buy your books from a bona fide bookstore online, check the names of the sellers.
Another nationwide retailer, Dollar General, instead is promoting its $1 items even more to spite its competitors. Dollar General, which operates over 18,000 stores, tends to be located in rural areas serving low-income consumers. The company also runs the Dollar General Literacy Foundation that provides grants to programs supporting literacy within a 15-mile radius of one of its stores or distribution centers.
In May, the foundation announced it will give nearly $9.2 million in grants to 1,000 schools, libraries, and nonprofit organizations. So, shopping at Dollar General could translate into supporting literacy programs such as those benefiting elementary school students.
The West Coast, mainly California, shops at the 99 Cents Only Stores that has 350 stores in four states. Going more for the cheaper alternative to Walmart, this chain has a fresh produce section, unlike its competitors that mostly sell food products in cans and in the freezer.
This month, the chain applied another 0.99 cents to all items, according to its website, translating to items being rounded up to the closest dollar. Though it rings confusing the way the chain describes its pricing policy, more items at the chain are now over its well-known 99-cent sticker, including some media items like books.
Prices going up at dollar stores have forced the companies to push their promise of discount offers while consumers’ pockets are being hit in general by accumulating household costs. More shoppers are heading to dollar stores for some relief, but families who may have bought books to entertain their children now could be skipping the books aisle to make sure they have enough money for food.