Melody Clark (@misslate004) posted a video to the platform this week, in which a customer could be seen taking matters into her own hands at a Dollar Tree in Chatanooga, Tennessee. After they were unable to find an employee to ring up their purchases, other patrons waited in line as the customer scanned items.
“You have a customer that has actually figured out how to get into the register, and a customer is actually ringing customers up,” Clark said in the voiceover. “You can’t make this s*** up.”
The footage then cut to another clip of a Dollar Tree employee finally arriving, and the customer who was holding down the fort informed the other customers: “A worker just came in.”
There have reportedly been staffing issues at dollar stores across the country, according to anonymous employees who spoke to Insider earlier this year. A representative disputed this to the outlet, saying: “Our goal is to provide stores with the resources they need, including the appropriate labour budgets, to support our expectations of a clean, well-stocked shopping environment as well as excellent customer service.”
“The morning shift is always the worst, because you spend the entire morning as the only person in the store,” a Michigan employee told Insider, signaling a similar issue that Clark captured in her TikTok video.
Staffing isn’t the only issue that Dollar General has faced, with the company having been reportedly fined for merchandise blocking fire exits. The New York Times reported in March that the chain has accumulated over $15m dollars in fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for “severe” violations, and has recently agreed to a settlement of $1.34m to OSHA for their failure to comply with safety requirements.
OSHA has also reportedly been investigating Dollar Tree Inc since January 2017, inspecting 270 Dollar Tree stores and found 111 instances of workplace violations. Douglas L Parker, assistant secretary of labour for occupational safety and health, told the New York Times: “What we have found time and time again at Dollar General stores is that there are obvious, preventable hazards that are putting workers at risk.”
“I am glad OSHA is not waiting for a tragedy to occur to document these hazards,” Joseph McCartin, a labour historian at Georgetown University, told the New York Times. However, McCartin pointed out Dollar Tree Inc’s repeated violations and flouting of federal requirements showed that “Dollar General doesn’t care”.
Dollar Tree is not only risking many of their workers’ safety but also cutting their hours. Most Dollar Tree employees make a dollar or two above minimum wage, which is reportedly more than Walmart and Home Depot. One employee explained to Insider that it puts them at a disadvantage. “It takes away needed hours and needed money,” they said.
The multitude of issues plaguing dollar stores across the nation have affected Wall Street as well, with shares hitting a 52-week low on 24 August. According to Insider, the record low occurred after the company announced its second-quarter results, which showed a large drop in profit margins.