CLIFTON, NJ - SEPTEMBER 12:  Atmosphere during the official opening of the Clifton Dollar General Store on September 12, 2009 in Clifton, New Jersey.  (Photo by Brian Killian/Getty Images for Procter & Gamble)
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Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the number of Dollar General stores in the United States.

(CNN Business) —  

Dollar General keeps expanding even as discount rivals like Family Dollar shrink.

The company said Thursday it will open 975 new stores in the United States this year. Dollar General will remodel 1,000 older stores with new queue lines to drive last-minute impulse buys. It will also spruce up its health and beauty sections to lift sales.

Dollar General (DG) has been growing for years in rural America. Dollar General (DG) opened 900 stores in 2018 and 1,315 the year prior. It has more than 15,300 stores across the country and sales have increased for 29 straight years.

Despite a strong economy today, the uneven recovery in the United States has buoyed Dollar General.

“While the economy is doing very well, our core customer continues to struggle,” Dollar General chief executive Todd Vasos told analysts last year. Vasos said on Thursday that Dollar General is preparing for the consumer environment to weaken in the second half of the year.

The chain caters mainly to low-and-middle-income customers in rural and suburban areas. That helps it stand out against suburban chains like Dollar Tree (DLTR) and Family Dollar, which focuses on urban customers. Family Dollar has struggled in recent years and will close nearly 400 stores this year.

Dollar General looks to build stores in rural areas where big box retailers or grocery stores are not within 15 or 20 miles. That gives the company close proximity to shoppers and compels more frequent store visits. The company says 75% of its locations are in towns with 20,000 or fewer people.

Dollar General even surged during the holidays. Dollar General’s sales at stores open at least a year increased 4% during its most recent quarter compared with a year earlier, beating analysts’ expectations.

The US government shutdown boosted Dollar General sales by 0.7% last quarter because the Agriculture Department doled out February SNAP benefits early, the company said. It also got a lift from more shoppers buying food and home products, such as kitchenware and small appliances.