Rite Aid Corp. saw comparable-store sales rise in January despite decreases in flu-related business.

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Rite Aid's January comps gain despite slow flu sales

January 30th, 2014

CAMP HILL, Pa. – Rite Aid Corp. saw comparable-store sales rise in January despite decreases in flu-related business.

Rite Aid said Thursday that for the four weeks ended Jan. 25, comp-store sales edged up 1.8% year over year. That was less than the 2.9% gain in December but continued the drug chain's rising same-store sales trend since the middle of last year.

In January, same-store sales fell 1.3% in the front end, reflecting a 1.4% negative impact from declined sales in flu-related over-the-counter products, Rite Aid noted.

Prescription count at comparable stores also was impacted by slower flu-related sales. The company said prescriptions filled in January were down 2.2%, of which 2.4% stems from a decrease in flu-related prescriptions and flu shots.

However, comparable pharmacy sales climbed 3.2% in January. Introductions of new generic drugs, which carry lower prices but have bigger profit margins, negatively impacted pharmacy same-store sales by 124 basis points during the month.

Overall drug store sales for January were up 1.5% to more than $1.94 billion from over $1.91 billion a year earlier. Prescription sales represented 69.7% of drug store sales.

For Rite Aid's fiscal 2014 year to date ended Jan. 25, same-store sales gained 0.6% year over year, reflecting flat results in the front end and a 0.9% uptick in the pharmacy during the 47-week period. Script count at comparable stores dipped 0.2%.

Total drug store sales for the 47 weeks came in at nearly $22.90 billion, up 0.3% from about $22.83 billion for the same period last year. Prescription sales accounted for 67.7% of overall drug store sales.

As of Jan. 25, Rite Aid operated 4,588 drug stores, compared with 4,626 stores in the year-ago period.