While many retailers have struggled to stay afloat in a tough economy, South Florida’s dollar stores chains have been steadily growing to compete with drug store chains.

In South Florida, dollar store chains have big plans for expansion and remodeling stores. The discount companies are revamping stores to include larger food sections, health and beauty items, and even pharmacies.

“The rapid evaporation of wealth has profoundly changed the way Americans shop and how they define value,” said to Ann Natunewicz, national manager of U.S. Retail Research for Colliers International.

Last year, the number of stores nationwide owned by Dollar General, Family Dollar and Dollar Tree combined to outnumber Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid locations by more than 1,300 stores, according to a study by Colliers International, a commercial real estate services company.

Walgreens has about 80 stores in Broward and Palm Beach counties, and plans to open two more stores in South Florida this year. CVS has about 50 stores in both counties.

“Dollar stores are big business now,” Natunewicz said. “Their product selection and price points compete favorably with the big box stores. The convenience they provide — bringing better products at lower prices closer to the consumer — helps dollar stores to better serve existing customers and attract new ones.”

Florida is Dollar Tree’s second largest market behind only California, said Tim Reid, spokesman for the company. Dollar Tree opened 30 new stores in Florida last year.

Deals, a discount variety store under the Dollar Tree brand, opened its first store with a pharmacy in February at U.S. 441 and Pembroke Road, in West Park. Deals partnered with PharmaGo, an independent pharmacy with corporate offices in Boca Raton, to run the prescription services inside the store.

“It’s a win-win on both sides of the equation,” said chief operating office of PharmaGo, Bradley Schnur. “It’s convenient for the customer to shop while they wait to fill prescriptions.”

The PharmaGo pharmacy offers competitive prices to stores like Walgreens, CVS and Walmart, and makes home deliveries, Schnur said.

Michael Furey of Pembroke Pines switched his pharmacy to PharmaGo shortly after the Deals store opened near his home.

“I spend less money here than if I went to a big chain store,” Furey said. “Plus it’s a big store. Deals is an upper-class dollar store.”

Charlotte-based Family Dollar stores had 459 stores in Florida at the end of 2011. The company plans to open more than a dozen more in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties by the end of this yeart.

On top of the expansion, Family Dollar renovated 1,000 stores nationwide last year, and will renovate about the same number this year, said Josh Braverman, spokesman for Family Dollar.

“We plan on adding roughly 1,000 new items to our food and health and beauty assortments,” Braverman said. “We want to offer our customers more choice, but through the same name brands you’d find at any grocery or drug store.”