Increased sales in the front end helped Walgreen Co. post a slight gain in same-store sales for March.


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Retail News Breaks

Walgreens' same-store sales improve in March

April 3rd, 2013

DEERFIELD, Ill. – Increased sales in the front end helped Walgreen Co. post a slight gain in same-store sales for March.

Walgreens said Wednesday that comparable-store sales in March edged up 0.7%, an improvement from a 0.6% decline in February.

The drug chain noted that March comp-store sales were negatively impacted by 2.1 percentage points from calendar day shifts (one extra Sunday and one fewer Thursday, and Easter falling on March 31 this year versus April 8 last year) and by 3.0 percentage points from introductions of lower-priced generic drugs.

In the front end, same-store sales rose 4.2% in March. Customer traffic in comparable stores fell 1.3%, but basket size grew 5.5%, Walgreens said.

Comparable pharmacy sales decreased 1.5% in March. Adjusted for the calendar-day shift, pharmacy same-store sales were up 1.9% for the month, according to Walgreens. The company said comparable pharmacy sales were negative impacted by 3.4 percentage points from calendar day shifts, and calendar day-shift adjusted comparable pharmacy sales were negatively impacted by 4.8 percentage points from new generic drugs.

Prescriptions count at comparable stores climbed 4% for March and was up 7.4% on a calendar day-shift adjusted basis, Walgreens said. Calendar day shifts negatively impacted prescriptions filled at comparable stores by 3.4 percentage points.The company added that the percentage of former Express Scripts customers returning to its pharmacies continued to rise in March.

Walgreens said it plans to report combined same-store sales for March and April with its April sales results.

Overall, Walgreens' March sales rose 2.3% to $6.16 billion from $6.02 billion a year earlier. Sales gained 5.4% in the front end and 0.4% in the pharmacy. 

The retailer reported that enrollements for its Balance Rewards customer loyalty program, launched in September, totaled more than 64 million through March.

For the calendar year to date through March, Walgreens' revenue was up 2.3% to $18.09 billion from $17.68 billion in the prior-year period. Fiscal 2013 sales for the first seven months were $42.12 billion, down 1.7% from $42.83 billion a year earlier.

Walgreens said it opened 12 drug stores during March, including four relocations, and closed one store.

As of March 31, the company operated 8,077 drug stores, 230 more than a year ago, including 101 net stores acquired over the last 12 months.

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