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Rite Aid sees dip in September same-store sales

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CAMP HILL, Pa. — Same-store sales tailed off in September at Rite Aid Corp. but improved compared with the previous month’s results.

For the four weeks ended September 26, Rite Aid’s same-store sales fell 0.3%, marking the drug store chain’s fourth consecutive month of same-store declines. In August, same-store revenue was down 1.9%, which followed 0.6% decreases in July and June.

Front-end same-store sales decreased 2.3% in September, and pharmacy same-store revenue rose 0.7%. The latter reflects an 186 basis-point negative impact from new generic drug introductions, according to Rite Aid.

Same-store sales for the former Brooks Eckerd stores were not reported, representing the first period that the company did not break out those results.

Total drug store sales for September slipped 1.5% to $1.94 billion from $1.97 billion a year earlier.

For the year to date through September 26, same-store sales were down 0.3%, reflecting a 3.1% decline in the front end and a 1.1% gain in the pharmacy, Rite Aid said.

Overall drug store sales for the 30-week period dropped 1.9% to $14.74 billion from $15.03 billion in the prior-year time span.

When reporting its fiscal 2010 second-quarter results last week, Rite Aid lowered its same-store sales guidance for the year, forecasting a 1% decrease to a 1% increase. The company previously projected a same-store sales gain of 0.5% to 2.5% for fiscal 2010.

Deutsche Bank Securities analyst Bill Dreher forecast Rite Aid’s same-store sales to be up 0.3% for the current fiscal year, within the company’s new guidance.

"We anticipate that comps next year should pick up to +2.7%, helped by an improving consumer spending environment and continued script growth," Dreher said in a report on Rite Aid’s second-quarter results.

As of September 26, Rite Aid operated 4,809 drug stores, compared with 4,922 stores in the year-ago period.

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