99 Cent Only Stores Shuttering All Locations, Citing Crime and Inflation As Key Factors

AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File

One of the first places I discovered when I moved to California in the late 1980s was the 99 Cents Only Store. One of my apartments was in walking distance of one, and I could buy a week's groceries for $20. Those halcyon days are long gone, not just for me and others, but for the iconic 99 Cents Only Store. When the company had to raise their price point from  $0.99 to $1.01 a few years back, you kind of got the sense they weren't going to outrun this. It was finally the weight of inflation and the COVID pandemic that did them in

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99 Cents Only will be closing all of its stores as the company announced plans to wind down its business operations.

The company, which was founded in 1982, operates 371 stores across California, Texas, Arizona and Nevada. 

On Thursday, the company officially announced plans to close down, citing financial difficulties stemming from the pandemic, changing consumer demand and rising inflation.

The company's press release tells the tale that is becoming the spirit of the age.

99 Cents Only Stores, together with its financial and legal advisors, engaged in an extensive analysis of all available and credible alternatives to identify a solution that would allow the business to continue. Following months of actively pursuing these alternatives, the company ultimately determined that an orderly wind-down was necessary and the best way to maximize the value of 99 Cents Only Stores' assets.

“This was an extremely difficult decision and is not the outcome we expected or hoped to achieve,” said Mike Simoncic, Interim Chief Executive Officer. “Unfortunately, the last several years have presented significant and lasting challenges in the retail environment, including the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, shifting consumer demand, rising levels of shrink, persistent inflationary pressures and other macroeconomic headwinds, all of which have greatly hindered the Company’s ability to operate.”

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The press release did not mention rampant retail theft as a reason, but you know that factors in as well. 99 Cent Only Stores are extremely soft targets, with very little security presence. In California, with Prop 47 in place, retail theft of up to $950 won't even be prosecuted. So, thieves could take out three-quarters of the store and get away scot-free.

Who is this really hurting? Well the 17,000 employees (the X post above failed to factor in the people in the corporate office and ancillary operations) who are now on the unemployment line. At 5.3 percent, California and Nevada already have the highest unemployment rates in the nation. California just instituted a $20.00 an hour minimum-wage hike, which is going over like a lead balloon; so the closure of a small business like 99 Cents Only Stores is only going to add to that burden. 

Then there are the people like me as a young adult, who can barely afford rent, let alone food and staples. 99 Cents Only carried practically everything, and for certain items, like toiletries, paying $1.01 was a better deal than your local grocery store or even Costco. Then there are the families struggling to make ends meet, and 99 Cents Only made the difference between their kids having toothpaste and school supplies versus not. Now that option is no longer available. For President Joe Biden and the Democrats who claim they care about the little man, their policies continue to do great harm to the very people they claim to be helping.  

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