Food deserts, generally defined as urban areas in which the closest grocery store is more than a mile away, tend to concentrate in low-income neighborhoods. https://t.co/4hh0WbOIXH pic.twitter.com/zK0WmNlc8C— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) August 20, 2021
Analysts say the explosive rise of dollar stores is yet another example of how the pandemic has reshaped the economy and widened the gulf between the wealthiest and poorest Americans. Rising grocery prices — inflation is up 5.4 percent from last year — coupled with disproportionately high job losses among low-income workers have left many of the most vulnerable Americans in even worse shape.
“It’s a striking disparity: In this country, there is now dollar-store land and there is Whole Foods land,” said Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), a nonprofit advocacy group. “And if you live in Whole Foods land, it’s very hard for people to understand just how desperate circumstances are for the rest of the country.”
“It’s one thing to have a dollar store or a couple of dollar stores in a neighborhood, but when you’ve got them at the density levels we’re seeing, it’s really difficult for grocery stores to open and succeed,” said Mitchell of ILSR. “Dollar stores are the No. 1 driver of ‘food deserts’ at this point.”