By Bob Johns
The 11,000-store chain is piloting fuel stations in Alabama.
Dollar General has been busy. The company recently opened its 11,000th store, its most recent quarter’s sales were up 11.3 percent, and it was recognized as Company of the Year in Retail by the American Business Awards. Now, however, they are trying something totally new — fuel stations.
The company recently announced plans to pilot gasoline stations at its larger locations, beginning with the Dollar General Market in Hanceville, Alabama. Although this is a new business for Dollar General, it is not new to retailers. Grocery retailers have been adding fuel pumps for years, and companies like Costco and Sam’s Club added them as an additional benefit for their members. Many of these companies tie loyalty programs to the cost of fuel at the pumps, but it is unknown if Dollar General will begin any type of loyalty program tying in-store sales to fuel savings.
With the company planning to hit the 12,000-store mark in less than two years, it will be interesting to see how the fuel pumps figure into the expansion plans. "Dollar General continues to innovate to provide convenience and value for our customers," said Rick Dreiling, chairman and CEO. "This project to test a fuel offering is consistent with our strategy of continually looking for new and better ways to meet our customers' needs for value and convenience and enhancing our position as America's general store."
In conjunction with fuel partner Mansfield Oil, the company will evaluate the program’s success before deciding on expanding next year. "Mansfield and Dollar General share core values that have led to decades of growth and innovation," stated Michael Mansfield, CEO of Mansfield Energy Corp. "This pilot program will fuse Dollar General and Mansfield's dedication to unparalleled service while bringing a new level of convenience to customers." If the two companies can figure a way to tie the low-margin fuel sales to high-margin retail sales, we may be seeing a flood of Dollar General gas stations across the country.