[20180815] “一元店” Dollar General 如何征服了美國鄉村地區

Where even Walmart won’t go: how Dollar General took over rural America

by Chris McGreal @Guardian

Dollar General 屬於俗稱的 Dollar Shop (一元店),和日本的百元店和臺灣的十元店類似,是主要銷售各種廉價食物和日用品的零售店,大部分商品的價格都低於十美元,食物也一般都是一些加工食品 (processed foods)。

Dollar General 正在以每天三家新店的速度快速在美國擴張,他主要的目標是一些 Walmart 不願意去的鄉下城鎮 (一般位於食物沙漠,附近沒有生鮮超市) 或城市內較爲破敗的社區。它們門店的數量目前已經超過了麥當勞的餐廳數量,利潤也不斷上升,甚至超過了一些傳統的大型零售商。根據該公司估計,美國大約有四分之三的人口離最近的 Dollar General 門店只有五英里 (约八公里) 不到的距离。

由于 Dollar General 如此熱門,他們能向計劃進駐的城鎮要求諸如水電費補貼等租稅減免,有時城鎮甚至主動請求 Dollar General 入駐,其主要的談判籌碼是它能給該城鎮帶來更多稅金的願景,然而,這個願景並不一定能夠被實現:

In Haven, the former mayor Mike Alfers conceded that the promised financial advantage of Dollar General has largely been lost with the closure of the Foodliner. It is now a fitness centre, with the old grocery store sign still hanging outside. Sales tax revenue for the town rose by more than $60,000 between the years before and after the Dollar General opened. But the Foodliner alone was collecting around $75,000 a year in sales tax which is now gone.

由於他們極強的價格優勢,他們一般能成功將當地的雜貨店、生鮮超市等店家的客源搶走,從這個角度來看,他們消滅的本地商家以及稅收並不一定能被 Dollar General 的稅收給補上。另外,以 Walmart 擴店擠壓本地店家生意的前例爲鑑,他們也有可能在本地店家倒閉之後關閉門店,造成當地最後什麼店家都沒有的窘境:

The council also took on board what happened in a town an hour north-east of Buhler when a small Walmart moved in, put two grocery stores out of business and then shut down, leaving the town with nothing.

另外, Dollar General 銷售的加工食品也是導致美國大量肥胖、糖尿病等健康問題的原因之一,他們擠走生鮮超市之後造成購買生鮮的難度增高,可能造成當地人更嚴重的健康問題。

有些城鎮意識到了這些潛在的問題,積極的阻擋 Dollar General 這類連鎖低價商店入駐。然而,這類零售商所具備的價格以及規模化優勢可能遲早勢不可擋。當地的店家對此也試圖作出一些因應措施,但目前無法確定是否足夠:

The threat from Dollar General prompted Keith to evaluate his way of doing business. He was already in the process of building a larger shop just down the road from the existing one, but now it will incorporate hot foods such as chicken and a salad bar. It will also open later.

另外,經濟大環境的變化也是重要的影響因素,鄉村地區的低薪資造成人們無法負擔生鮮,以及越來越多人出城/跨城工作導致越來越長的通勤時間,造成在本地商店消費的機會變少,開在城鎮邊界主要道路邊的 Dollar General 對這些族群格外有吸引力:

With decent paying jobs increasingly scarce in rural Kansas, a good part of the population of Buhler and Haven work in large towns with ready access to a range of rivals from Walmart to farmers markets. It’s easier for residents of what have become bedroom communities to stop at a major store on the way home from work and only use the local grocery shop for last-minute supplies such as milk.

名詞解釋:

  • Variety store/pound shop/dollar store: a retail store that sells a wide range of inexpensive household goods.
  • Food desert: an area, especially one with low-income residents, that has limited access to affordable and nutritious food. Or as defined by the department of agriculture as a rural community where one-third of residents live more than 10 miles from a grocery store selling fresh produce.

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