Helped by calendar day shifts and solid pharmacy business, Walgreen Co. turned in a comparable-store sales gain in November after experiencing a decrease the previous month.


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Walgreens sees a rebound in same-store sales

December 3rd, 2010

DEERFIELD, Ill. – Helped by calendar day shifts and solid pharmacy business, Walgreen Co. turned in a comparable-store sales gain in November after experiencing a decrease the previous month.

The drug chain said Friday that same-store sales for November (excluding the acquired Duane Reade stores) rose 3.2%. The increase marked a rebound from a 1.3% comparable-store sales decline in October and exceeded gains of 0.4% in September and 2.1% in August.

The effect of calendar day shifts positively impacted overall same-store sales by 1.5 percentage points in November, according to Walgreens.

In the front end, same-store sales increased 1.5% during the month. The retailer said customer traffic in comparable stores inched up 0.3%, and basket size grew 1.2%.

Comparable-pharmacy sales for November gained 4.2%, reflecting positive impacts of 2.3 percentage points from calendar day shifts and 0.8 percentage point from a rise in the number of flu shots administered, the company said. Pharmacy same-store results were negatively impacted by 3.3 percentage points from generic drug introductions and 1.1 percentage points from a lower incidence of cough, cold and flu.

Prescriptions filled at comparable stores rose 6.6% in November, including 1.2 percentage points from more patients filling 90-day prescriptions, Walgreens reported. Calendar day shifts positively impacted prescriptions filled in comparable stores by 2.3 percentage points, and the lower incidence of flu negatively impacted comparable prescriptions filled by 1.1 percentage points. Prescriptions filled at comparable stores were positively impacted by 1.5 percentage points because of more flu shots.

Flu shots administered at pharmacies and Take Care clinics during November totaled more than 1 million, with 5.6 million flu shots having been administered season-to-date.

"Considering the warm fall weather around much of the country and a lack of flu virus circulating, we're pleased we have provided more seasonal flu shots than we did at this point last year, when we ran out of flu vaccine supply in mid-October," Kermit Crawford, president of pharmacy services for Walgreens, said in a statement.

"With the typical peak of the flu season still two to three months away and National Influenza Vaccination Week beginning Sunday, now is when consumers should protect themselves, their families and their friends before holiday gatherings begin," Crawford added. "We've made it easier than ever to get immunized by offering flu shots at every Walgreens, every day with no appointment necessary."

Overall sales in November came in at $5.83 billion, an increase of 8.6% versus a year ago. Walgreens said Duane Reade stores contributed 2.8 percentage points to the total sales increase for the month. Pharmacy sales rose 8.8%, while front-end sales increased 8.2%, including 4.5 percentage points from Duane Reade.

Calendar year-to-date sales totaled $62.05 billion, up 5.8% year over year.

Total sales for Walgreens' fiscal 2011 first quarter climbed 5.9% to $17.33 billion from $16.36 billion a year earlier. Same-store sales for the first quarter edged up 0.8%. Front-end comparable-store sales for the quarter were up 0.4 percent, and prescriptions filled at comparable stores gained 2.2% in the period.

Walgreens said that during November it opened 49 drug stores, including 12 relocations, and acquired nine stores and closed three stores. As of Nov. 30, the chain operated 7,650 drugstores, 503 more than a year ago, including 291 stores acquired over the past year.

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