Discount Stores Find Strong Appeal With Consumers Across Age Groups and Income Levels

November 27, 2018

Roughly 9 in 10 US adults say they shop at various types of discount retailers, according to recent survey results released by the NRF. The study indicates that the appeal of these value retailers extends across demographic groups, including Millennials (93%) and Gen Z consumers (93%).

The allure of a bargain – a key reason why people shop in-store – also attracts higher-income consumers. Nine in 10 respondents with income over $100k report shopping at discount retailers, on par with the 88% of those with income of $50-100k and the 89% of those with income below $50k.

Not much has changed over the years, it seems. Five years ago a report similarly found that most high-income shoppers were visiting dollar stores, although that study did find that higher-income consumers were less satisfied than others with the product selection at the stores. In an interesting twist, this year’s survey from the NRF suggests that the higher-income group ($100k+) are more keenly searching for deals than others: 44% always price check at discount retailers when shopping at bargain or discount retailers, compared to 29% of adults overall.

Most Popular Store Types, Products

The dollar store reigns as the most commonly visited discount retailer type, as 58% of value shoppers reported shopping at these stores, two-thirds doing so at least twice a month. Dollar stores are the most popular discount store type for value-shopping Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, though Millennials are a bit less likely to shop at them than their older counterparts.

The popularity of dollar stores is reflected by recent research from Nielsen. In examining changes in retail store counts during the decade-long period from 2007 to 2017, Nielsen found that the number of dollar stores had grown by 11,247. By comparison, the number of department stores had contracted by 638 during the same period of time.

Returning to the NRF study, off-price stores (50%), discount grocery (50%) and outlet stores (44%) are also popular with value shoppers, fewer (36%) of whom shop at thrift stores.

These various store types are prized for different categories. The product category that value shoppers are most likely to buy at discount stores is clothing (by 75%), with off-price stores the most common destination for such items. Groceries (71%) are the next-most commonly shopped category, with discount groceries the obvious primary choice for these items.

Home decor and furnishings (preferred at off-price retailers), personal care and beauty (primarily bought at dollar stores) and electronics (purchased mostly at outlets) round out the tp 5 categories shopped.

Other Survey Highlights

  • The top reasons given for shopping at value retailers are that it’s cheaper / more cost effective (67%) and to find a deal (65%).
  • Fewer than one-third of value shoppers expect bargain or discount retailers to offer various features such as the ability to buy online (28%), an entertaining shopping experience (23%) or product reviews (22%). Even simple checkouts (37%) and flexible returns (36%) are expected by fewer than 4 in 10 value shoppers.
  • Almost two-thirds (63%) of value shoppers are buying more on sale now compared with 5 years ago.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 3,018 nationally representative US adults (18+), conducted from June 28 – July 19, 2018.


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