Your local Dollar General may soon have more helpful employees, fewer self-checkouts, less clutter clogging the aisles and fewer products you’re not interested in. Those are among the promises made by the retailer’s CEO, who says it’s time for the dollar store chain to get “back to the basics.”

Since longtime CEO Todd Vasos left that position last year, Dollar General has faced numerous consumer and legal complaints about understaffed stores, overcharged shoppers and “slovenly and uninviting” stores. So Vasos reversed his retirement back in October, reclaiming the top job and launching a top-to-bottom review of what Dollar General was doing right, and what it was getting wrong.

“We are getting back to the basics here at Dollar General across all levels of the organization,” he pledged to investors in a call last week.

The first task, he said, is to make employees more efficient and helpful. “We plan to increase the employee presence at the front end of our stores and in particular, the checkout area,” he said. The company had “started to rely too much this year on self-checkout in our stores,” on the theory that would help free up cashiers to perform other tasks. “We should be using self-checkout as a secondary checkout vehicle, not a primary,” he explained. “While self-checkout has contributed to the convenient proposition for our customers in certain stores, it does not reduce the importance of a friendly, helpful employee who is there to greet customers and assist while the checkout process is happening.”

It also helps stop theft, he acknowledged, by having employees who are “always there to monitor the front end of the store.”

Of course, having employees watching your every move doesn’t necessarily improve the shopping experience. So that’s not the only change Vasos is promising. He’s also ending a short-lived experiment by disbanding the roving teams of employees who traveled from store to store to help organize inventory and get it ready for sale. Instead, the company will reinvest those labor funds to each individual store, to ensure they all have the staff they need to get products out of the back room, out of the aisles, and onto shelves, so shoppers can find the products they want when they want them.


“The amount of out-of-stocks we have in our store are probably some of the largest that I’ve seen in the 15-plus years I’ve been here,” he acknowledged. So the goal of the staffing changes is “making sure our stores are stocked each and every day when the consumer walks in.”

Another way Vasos hopes to help employees keep the shelves stocked, is by having fewer items to shelve. He estimated that the typical Dollar General store has more than 11,000 different items to choose from. “But we believe we have an opportunity to take out a meaningful number,” he said. “Think about mayonnaise as an example. We may have five or six different variants of mayonnaise on the shelf today. We can easily drop one or two of those. The consumer is not going to know the difference. Actually, it’s going to make her life a little simpler when she goes to the shelf. It’s going to make the store’s life simpler to put product on the shelf.” By eliminating “less productive” items, stores can focus on making sure they’re fully-stocked with “products that are most important to our customers.”

Vasos made no mention of some of the more noticeable changes Dollar General has already made – or was forced to make – in keeping with the retailer’s aim of ensuring employees can stay focused on their most important tasks. So far, during Vasos’s second stint as CEO, Dollar General has eliminated its labor-intensive buy-online-pick-up-in-store service. And it’s formally settled two lawsuits that accused it of overcharging customers, promising to dedicate more manpower to ensuring that price tags are current and accurate.

But there are several other lawsuits still pending, in which shoppers accuse Dollar General of overcharging them by not honoring prices displayed at the shelf. And an investor lawsuit accuses the company of depressing its stock price with “chronic understaffing” that leaves employees without “sufficient time to update merchandise pricing” or stock shelves, resulting “in a slovenly and uninviting shopping environment which dissuaded consumers from shopping at Dollar General.”

So there’s still work to be done. But Vasos is confident in his plan. “Let me just say again that we’re laser-focused on getting back to the basics,” he emphasized to investors. “Overall, we believe these actions will drive improvements in customer satisfaction,” which is especially important these days, since “we know that our customers rely on Dollar General to provide the products they need at great values in convenient, friendly and easy-to-shop stores.”

If you’ve been turned off by the shopping experience at your local Dollar General, then, it may be worth giving it another try to see if the company’s improvement plan is paying off. Until all those lawsuits are resolved, though, better keep an eye on those price tags – just to be safe.

Image source: Dollar General


  1. I live in bunnlevel north Carolina my wife brought ranch dressing and ate it and got food poisoning the expiration date was for June of 2023 we got it January 27 2024 we didn’t look at the date because the store is supposed to stay on top of things well some idiot from corporate calls me and tells me we’re responsible adults we should be looking at the dates well this store is on hwy 210 South in Lillington north carolina its the most dirtest store inside and out half the lights are out the sign never lite the aisles are cluttered up i called the state inspector in the idiot told me that my wife lost 4 days of work and doctor bill and pharmacy bill what a joke

  2. You may want to pay a higher hourly wage to entice prospective employees. Do not tolerate employees who are lazy, unpleasant, or dress slovenly! Stick to higher standards. I have completely stopped shopping at Dollar General store until a more stringent plan is put into place. Lots of luck undoing the damages.

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