As Household Budgets Tighten, Gas Prices Steering Shoppers To Dollar Stores

A new survey shows that rising gasoline prices could make the spring selling season a tough one for retailers. But what might be bad news for major stores could turn out to be a blessing for small, independent retailers. “The American shopper was extremely cautious before, and now I’d say they are extremely worried,” says Britt Beemer, president of America’s Research Group, which conducted the recent survey.

But, Beemer adds, this spring, more Americans plan to stretch their dollars by shopping at discount chains rather than the pricier department stores and specialty chains, the survey shows, with 753 out of 1,000 survey participants picking discounters as potential shopping destinations for spring. Even at the lower end, there will be intense competition, Beemer warns. “Wal-Mart has a new enemy called the dollar stores,” Beemer says, adding that dollar stores could win more customers as they offer more grocery items and food.

Rising gas prices are their biggest concern about the U.S. economy right now, a whopping 62 percent of those who participated in the survey say. Less than 15 percent worried about high unemployment and government spending too.

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