NEW YORK — Same-store sales growth has been hard to come by for the nation’s largest pharmacy chains of late, but business prospects for mass retailing overall look a bit brighter heading into the holidays.
Walgreen Co. and Rite Aid Corp. both saw declines in comparable-store sales for October. CVS Caremark Corp., which doesn’t report monthly sales, posted a 2.5% gain in same-store sales for its third quarter ended September 30.
At Walgreens, comparable-store sales (excluding Duane Reade) in October dipped 1.3% compared with a year earlier but reflect a 1 percentage point negative impact from calendar day shifts. The result was down from a 0.4% same-store uptick in September.
Same-store sales in the pharmacy decreased 1.6%, reflecting negative impacts from calendar day shifts, generic drug introductions and a weak cold/flu season along with a positive impact from more flu shot business, Walgreens said. In the front end, comparable-store sales were down 0.8%.
Meanwhile, Rite Aid reported a 1.7% drop in same-store sales for the four weeks ended October 23. October’s result declined from a 0.9% dip in September.
“Front-end and pharmacy same-store sales were negatively impacted by a significantly weaker cough, cold and flu season compared to the same period last year,” Rite Aid stated.
At CVS, same-store sales growth in the third quarter included a 1.4% gain in the front end and a 3% rise in the pharmacy. The drug store chain noted that pharmacy same-store results reflect a positive impact from its Maintenance Choice program and a negative impact from generic drug introductions.
Across the retail sector, same-store sales (excluding Walmart) tailed off to 1.7% year-over-year growth in October from gains of 2.8% in September and 2.3% in October 2009, with stronger-than-average results at food, drug and mass retailers, according to Kantar Retail.
Yet the market researcher said sales in the coming months may get a lift as shoppers seem more amenable to spending for the holidays. Its October ShopperScape poll found that 46% of shoppers plan to spend about the same on holiday gifts as last year, up 3 percentage points from a year ago, and 40% plan to spend less on holiday gifts than last year, down 5 percentage points from a year ago.
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