- Dollar Tree is breaking the buck for good.
- The discount chain said Tuesday the majority of its $1 items will now be sold for $1.25.
- It began testing these higher prices points in September.
Dollar Tree is officially breaking the buck.
In a call with investors, CEO Michael Witynski said that the new price regime will allow the company to bring back items that were previously abandoned – because of its $1 price constraint – and enable it to return profit margins to their longstanding levels of 35% to 36% next year.
Dollar Tree, which also owns Family Dollar, was the last of the major dollar store chains in the US to stand by its $1 commitment for more than 30 years even as investors piled on the pressure for it to raise prices.
Witynski said that by raising prices to $1.25, the company has more flexibility to absorb rising supply chain and labor costs that are biting into profit margins.
On top of this, the company said it is expanding its higher-priced Dollar Tree Plus line of goods, which includes items that mostly cost between $3 and $5, to more stores. It plans to roll out the line to 5,000 stores by 2024, it said.
For the moment, Witynski is promising to stand by the $1.25 price to keep things simple for customers, he said on the call.
While analysts say the price increase will allow the company to return to its historic 35% margin levels (gross margin was 27.5% of net sales in the most recent quarter), there's a risk that its customers could be turned off by this.
"That risk is reduced customer traction, smaller basket sizes, and some erosion of the value credentials Dollar Tree is renowned for," Neil Saunders, managing director of Global Data Retail, said in a note to clients Tuesday. "The simple fact is that many of Dollar Tree's customers are feeling the heat of inflation on their spending power, and they won't simply absorb such a large price lift," he added.