Same-store sales growth slowed in November at Walgreen Co. as a revival in front-end business during the previous two months lost steam.

Walgreens, same-store sales, November, drug store, pharmacy, front-end sales, Russell Redman

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Walgreens sees letup in same-store sales

December 2nd, 2009

DEERFIELD, Ill. – Same-store sales growth slowed in November at Walgreen Co. as a revival in front-end business during the previous two months lost steam.

The drug store chain said Wednesday that same-store sales in November rose 3.9%, down from respective 4.9% and 5.3% gains in October and September but still ahead of increases of around 2% in August and July.

Comparable-pharmacy sales climbed 5.7% in November, up from a 5% gain in October but less than the 7% increase in September. Walgreens noted that November comparable-pharmacy sales were negatively impacted by 2.4 percentage points due to generic drug introductions in the last 12 months.

Also, prescriptions filled at comparable stores increased 7.4% in November. The chain said comparable prescriptions filled were positively impacted by 1.6 percentage points because of more patients filling 90-day prescriptions.

In the front end, comparable-store sales inched up 0.8%, down from a 4.7% uptick in October and a 2% rise in September. Walgreens explained that November front-of-store sales were negatively impacted by slowing demand for cough, cold and flu products versus September and October and by continued weakness in demand for discretionary goods throughout the month, with the Thanksgiving weekend notably softer.

The retailer added that the impact of calendar day shifts — not included in the numbers above — had a positive effect on November, which had one more Wednesday and one less Saturday versus a year ago. Calendar shifts positively impacted total comparable-store sales by 1.6 percentage points, comparable pharmacy sales by 2.4 percentage points and prescriptions filled in comparable stores by 2.4 percentage points.

Overall sales in November came in at $5.36 billion, up 8.7% from $4.93 billion a year earlier, according to Walgreens. Pharmacy revenue rose 9.7% during the month, and front-end sales increased 6.1%.

Calendar year-to-date sales totaled $58.63 billion, up 7.7% year over year, while fiscal 2010 year-to-date sales for the first three months were $16.36 billion, representing a 9.5% gain versus the year-ago period.

Walgreens said it opened 47 stores during November, including seven relocations, and acquired two stores. As of November 30, the chain operated 7,147 drug stores, 517 more than a year ago, including 60 stores acquired over the last year.