The early arrival of Thanksgiving lifted chain drug holiday sales above last year’s levels.

holiday sales, chain drug, holiday shopping, Rite Aid, Walgreens, CVS, Tony Montini, Joe Magnacca, Judy Sansone, CVS/pharmacy, Christmas shoppers, holiday season

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Early start gives boost to holiday sales

January 7th, 2013

NEW YORK – The early arrival of Thanksgiving lifted chain drug holiday sales above last year’s levels.

Total sales rose 4.6%, with same-store volume climbing 2.4%, as customers took advantage of extra holiday shopping days, according to research by Racher Press Inc., the publisher of Chain Drug Review. Last year’s numbers, when Thanksgiving fell two days later, were 4.4% and 2.2%.

Christmas falling on a Tuesday also helped, as many people had a three-day weekend for late shopping.



Total Sales

Same-Store Sales

+4.6% +2.4%
+4.4% +2.2%
+5.4% +3.4%
+6.8% +5.5%
+3.9% +1.3%
*2012 had 32 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, compared with 30 in 2011.
Source: Racher Press research

To entice last-minute Christmas shoppers, Rite Aid Corp. stores stayed open late in the days before the holiday. Through December 23, nearly every Rite Aid outlet was open until at least 11 p.m. Shoppers pushing the limit could check the chain’s website for outlets open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, including some 24-hour stores.

“Last-minute Santas will find it easy to cross names off of their lists, thanks to our extended store hours and the wide variety of gifts available at Rite Aid,” said executive vice president of merchandising Tony Montini. “We think shoppers will be particularly impressed by the values they’ll find in our expanded electronics section and our own private brand of Kids Stuff toys.”

The Kids Stuff line comprises affordable classic toys — many under $10 — including 16-piece train sets, remote-controlled cars, plush dolls that giggle, and a digital keyboard and guitar set.

The chain also offered gift cards for nearly 200 different businesses including Sephora, iTunes, PlayStation Network,, AMC Theatres, Bass Pro Shops, Macy’s, Home Depot and Applebees.

Walgreens also had stores open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, including 1,600 24-hour locations. Through December 23 most Walgreens units were open until midnight.

“We understand that this is a busy and exciting time of year for our customers, and we are constantly working to provide them with a unique and comprehensive shopping experience for all of their holiday, health and daily living needs,” said Joe Magnacca, president of daily living products and solutions. “With our more than 8,000 locations nationwide, Walgreens offers an extensive array of merchandise, making us the perfect one-stop shop for holiday gifts.”

The chain met entertainment needs for the holiday season, including social gathering “must haves,” and offered gifts ranging from photo printing options to beauty products, as well as national brand toys and electronics.

Three gift-giving guides were available in stores: “Happy and Healthy, Your Guide to Living Well with Walgreens,” “Your Guide to Gift Giving and Entertaining” and “Photo Gifts and Holiday Cards.”

CVS/pharmacy publicized its own wide assortment of gifts and decorating essentials as the secret to smart holiday shopping without the hassle. The chain’s large selection of holiday décor, including ornaments and nutcrackers, had the same look as décor found in specialty stores but at a fraction of the cost. The chain was also a convenient gift destination for tech gadgets, the season’s hottest toys and the most sought-after beauty products.

“During the holiday season customers come into CVS/pharmacy to shop for holiday staples like gift wrap and batteries, but end up leaving with presents for their loved ones and decorations for the home they didn’t know we carry,” said senior vice president of merchandising Judy Sansone. “Savvy shoppers have been pleasantly surprised to find everything they need all in one place while saving money, which makes the shopping season less stressful.”