A late Thanksgiving dampened holiday sales at drug chains, but the trade class still put up better numbers than the retail industry overall.


holiday sales, drug chains, retail industry, late Thanksgiving, chain drug stores, Christmas, retail sales, same-store sales, MasterCard SpendingPulse, Sarah Quinlan, National Retail Federation, Rite Aid, Tony Montini, Walgreens, Moe Alkemade, CVS/pharmacy, Judy Sansone




































































































































































































































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Holiday sales impacted by shorter shopping season

January 6th, 2014

NEW YORK – A late Thanksgiving dampened holiday sales at drug chains, but the trade class still put up better numbers than the retail industry overall.

Total dollar volume at chain drug stores climbed 4.5%, with same-store sales rising 2.1%. With six fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas than there were a year ago, the figures fell short of the 2012 increases of 4.6% and 2.4%. Chains reported mediocre sales across the board, with volume of trim-a-tree not even living up to hopes.

Retail sales overall advanced 2.3% between November 1 and December 24, according to MasterCard SpendingPulse. The performance was in line with expectations, but several factors impacted purchases, according to Sarah Quinlan, senior vice president of market insights for MasterCard Advisors. Besides the shorter season, bad weather in some regions over the final two weekends clearly affected sales, she said. Yet sales were up over the 2012 period.

“One clear bright spot is that many consumers who were stuck indoors turned to online shopping to check items off their list, and that helped drive e-commerce growth,” Quinlan pointed out.

Among holiday-related categories, jewelry was a clear winner and one of the few segments that showed a gain over last year. Total apparel also saw modest growth, while luxury and electronics were flat. ­E-commerce sales posted low-double-digit growth.

Drug chains drove holiday sales with extended hours leading up to Christmas. According to the National Retail Federation, 32 million Americans had yet to start their holiday shopping on December 20.

In light of that, Rite Aid stores nationwide were open late through December 23, with some stores open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Rite Aid had a range of gifts that were “perfect for your gift-giving needs,” said Tony Montini, the chain’s executive vice president of merchandising. “And with our nearly 4,600 locations nationwide operating under extended hours, people can quickly and easily cross names off their list and feel good about their giving.”

The retailer offered options and value in categories suc as candy and chocolate, toys, bath and beauty, and gizmos and gadgets.

Most Walgreens stores were open until midnight through Christmas Eve, including 1,600 24-hour locations. On Christmas Day, most of the chain’s non-24-hour stores were open from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.

As many shoppers were checking the final presents off of their lists, they often needed to pick up one more item before celebrating, said Moe Alkemade, group vice president of consumables, sundries and seasonal. Walgreens’ research indicated that around 97% of people saw themselves making an impromptu shopping trip. With more than 8,000 locations nationwide, the chain offered a variety of last-minute gifts to complete the holiday shopping experience.

To help customers figuring out what to buy, the chain created a shopping guide — “Happy and Healthy, Your Guide to Easy Holiday Solutions from Walgreens” — as well as a gift finder tool accessible online or through its mobile app.

CVS/pharmacy, meanwhile, offered items from classic seasonal decorations to stocking stuffers and such unexpected gifts as a wine cabinet, all within consumers’ budgets.

“Time and money are top of mind with holiday shoppers, and we’re committed to making it easy for shoppers to find everything they need at a great value,” said senior vice president of merchandising Judy Sansone. “Each year shoppers are discovering gift options they didn’t expect to see when walking through our aisles.” Shoppers could visit CVS for everyday necessities as well as to grab a thoughtful gift, such as the latest designer fragrance, popular toy or tech gadget.

The chain encouraged consumers to visit its Facebook and Twitter pages. Shoppers could follow @CVS_Extra on Twitter to learn about promotions and ways to win a variety of gift items. Additional holiday savings could be found on ­Facebook.com/CVS.

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