Retail sales in February showed the highest gain in five months, and the industry’s largest drug chains mirrored the broader trend.


retail sales, drug chains, same-store sales, Rite Aid, Walgreens, front end, pharmacy, prescription sales, drug chain, comparable-store sales, pharmacy sales, prescriptions, Express Scripts, Richard Monks




































































































































































































































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Retail sales are on the upswing

March 26th, 2012

NEW YORK – Retail sales in February showed the highest gain in five months, and the industry’s largest drug chains mirrored the broader trend.

At Rite Aid Corp., for instance, total sales for the five weeks ended March 3 increased 2.3% to $2.55 billion, up from $2.5 billion for the corresponding period last year.

Same-store sales increased 3.1%, with front-end same-store sales for the month rising 1.9% and pharmacy same-store sales increasing 3.7%. Rite Aid reported that prescription sales accounted for 68.3% of its total volume.

February’s performance helped Rite Aid end its fourth quarter with a 3% increase in same-store sales and contributed to the drug chain ending its fiscal year with a 2% advance in same-store volume.

Meanwhile, at Walgreen Co. February sales inched ahead 1.5% over the prior-year period, but comparable-store sales fell more than expected for the second month in a row.

The company’s February sales gain was helped by the month having an extra day this year.
Still, Walgreens’ performance in some areas failed to live up to what some analysts had predicted. The company’s same-store sales fell 4.6% in the first 28 days of February from the full 28-day month of February 2011. Analysts expected a decline of 3.9%.

Including the additional day in the latest month, same-store sales were down 0.7%.

Conversely, the company’s 2% increase in February’s same-store front-end sales was slightly higher than the 1.8% gain that analysts had expected.

However, Walgreens’ 8.6% drop in February pharmacy same-store sales was more severe than the 7.2% decline analysts had expected.

Analysts and Walgreens executives acknowledged that the drop in pharmacy sales is directly attributable to the drug chain’s decision to stop filling prescriptions for patients in the Express Scripts Inc. ­network.

Despite the impact that the loss of Express Scripts has had on Walgreens’ pharmacy sales, it has not affected other parts of its business. The company noted that traffic in its established stores fell 0.2% in February, but shoppers spent 2.2% more on each shopping trip.

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