Top dollar?

There’s a new phrase entering the consumer lexicon—”A dollar for your thoughts”—and further proof that the once-lowly dollar store has become the latest American icon.

At least that’s one of the takeaways from a new report by Colliers International, a real estate, research and forecasting firm which found that the four major dollar store chains-Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Family Dollar and 99 cents Only-have a combined store count of 21,500, surpassing the big three drug chains, CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid.

The fact that dollar stores have gained prominence among consumers is old news and if you added up all the independent operators out there, the actual store count might be double or triple what’s been published.

What’s worth noting is that this segment’s steady earnings, expanded food offerings and aggressive expansion and remodeling have not only given them star power among consumers, but also made them the darlings of landlords and real estate investors who feel they generate a “positive spillover” effect for the rest of the property, according to Colliers’ analysts.

Meanwhile, because supermarkets and supercenters often restrict landlords from renting space to them in the same shopping center, dollar stores are getting more aggressive in their real estate strategies by going after better locations than in the past and doing more ground up construction.

Still there are some retail industry observers who say dollar stores have reached their potential and really don’t present any major threat. You have to wonder if these are the people who said the same thing about Trader Joe’s and Aldi.

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