Just ahead of discount retailer Dollar General announcing the opening of its 19,000th location, Dollar General stores across Ohio temporarily shut down early on Jan. 27, an action the state’s attorney general said was taken to re-tag product prices amid ongoing issues with the retailer’s pricing.
The state began investigating Dollar General last year after Ohio Department of Agriculture auditors found that, in some stores, nearly 88% of items were more expensive at checkout than the prices listed on the shelf.
In early January, Ohio AG Dave Yost filed a temporary restraining order against Dollar General, seeking to compel the retailer to charge the same prices at the register as advertised on its shelves. That move followed a November lawsuit filed by Yost against the chain over alleged deceptive pricing practices.
“Ohio’s Dollar General stores are shutting down to re-tag all their shelf prices—exactly the reason we sued them,” Yost tweeted on Jan. 27. “Glad to see this first step—but we are going to insist on the court order to enforce continued compliance with Ohio’s market fairness laws.”
Goodlettsville, Tennessee-based Dollar General did not immediately respond to a request by CSP sister publication Winsight Grocery Business for comment on the store closures. It’s unclear how many Dollar General locations in Ohio were affected by the shutdowns.
The retailer, however, told local media in Ohio that it had closed some stores because of a computer issue.
“Dollar General closed select stores this morning to address an overnight systems error,” the chain told news outlet NBC4i in Columbus. “This issue has been resolved and all impacted stores are now open to continue serving our customers. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.”
A hand-written sign on one Dollar General store said the location was temporarily closed “for inventory,” NBC4 reported.
Employees at several other stores told the network that the stores were, in fact, closed to change shelf prices.
Dollar General has also faced mounting penalties from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), with fines totaling more than $15 million since 2017.
On Jan. 26, OSHA said it found stores in Middleburg and Green Cove Springs, Florida, as well as a store in Double Springs, Alabama, in which boxes and merchandise blocked exits, potentially preventing workers from leaving in an emergency. Dollar General was fined an additional $387,000 in those cases, OSHA said.
“Dollar General’s growing record of disregard for safety measures makes it abundantly clear that the company puts profit before people,” OSHA Regional Administrator Kurt Petermeyer in Atlanta said in a statement. “These violations are preventable, and failing to prevent them shows a blatant disregard for the workers on whom they depend to keep their stores operating. OSHA continues to make every effort to hold Dollar General accountable for its failures.”
Late last year, Dollar General revealed ambitious growth plans, saying it intends to open more than 1,000 new stores in 2023. The discounter reported a 12% increase in its food-and-beverage sales during the third quarter, nearly double its overall same-store sales growth for the period.
Dollar General, which operates in 47 states, sells fresh produce in more than 3,000 stores and plans to add fruit and vegetables to at least 2,000 locations this year. The chain opened its 19,000th store on Jan. 28 in Joplin, Missouri.
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