99 Cents Only (NYSE:NDN) warned today that its first quarter hasn't been quite what investors had hoped for. There's been some not-so-thrilling news emanating from 99 Cents Only over the course of the last few months, so maybe there's not too much surprise here. Is it enough to make one question whether the times are getting a little too challenging for this company?

In February, we learned that 99 Cents Only was undergoing a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) inquiry. Then, in March, the dollar store reported a lackluster quarter, with profits down 24%. Much of the shortfall was attributed to workers' compensation costs in California, as well as weakness in the Houston market.

Today, problems in Houston continue, with lower-than-anticipated sales once more. That's an issue that 99 Cents Only has said it plans to remedy by opening 14 stores in that city this year.

And now that California grocers are past their strike, 99 Cents Only faces the threat of aggressive promoting as stores like Albertson's (NYSE:ABS) and Kroger (NYSE:KR) try to woo shoppers back. 99 Cents Only operates in just two other markets, Arizona and Nevada.

Meanwhile, eggs played a part in 99 Cents Only's story, too. These days, eggs fly off the shelves because of low-carb dieters, and 99 Cents Only was not able to procure them at good prices as their newfound popularity hiked their prices. The company said that the lack of eggs cost it $1.5 million in sales in the quarter. It said it has eggs by the dozen now -- a relief, considering when you add into the mix the Easter holiday -- and it is developing a smaller pack to maintain availability. (Though that leads one to wonder if the company is going to attempt to peddle an egg six pack for a buck, and how that will go over with shoppers.)

However, the biggest question may be how an economic recovery will impact the dollar retailers. While 99 Cents Only may have some elements that are independent of its rivals, Family Dollar (NYSE:FDO) has been the strongest performer in the space. Dollar General (NYSE:DG) and Dollar Tree (NASDAQ:DLTR) have flagged a bit. When it comes to 99 Cents Only, more can be gleaned when it officially releases earnings on April 20.

In a big-picture sense, there may be no reason to cry over the spilt milk (or the missing eggs). More dollars in the wallet could likely add up to consumers upgrading their shopping budgets to Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), Target (NYSE:TGT), and beyond. And of course, that would spell bad news for all the dollar retailers.

Is haunting the aisles of dollar stores the way you receive more bang for your buck? Do you have lots of money-saving tips -- or are you in desperate need of ways to squeeze your dollar yourself? Visit the Living Below Your Means board here on Fool.com.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.