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NRF: Average spending during Black Friday decreased

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON As the closely watched Black Friday weekend winds down, a National Retail Federation survey conducted over the weekend confirmed the expected: More people spent less.

According to NRF’s Black Friday shopping survey, conducted by BIGresearch, 195 million shoppers visited stores and Web sites over Black Friday weekend, up from 172 million last year. However, the average spending over the weekend dropped to $343.31 per person from $372.57 a year ago. Total spending reached an estimated $41.2 billion.

“Shoppers proved this weekend that they were willing to open their wallets for a bargain, heading out to take advantage of great deals on less expensive items like toys, small appliances and winter clothes,” said Tracy Mullin, NRF president and CEO. “While retailers are encouraged by the number of Americans who shopped over Black Friday weekend, they know they have their work cut out for them to keep people coming back through Christmas. Shoppers can continue to expect retailers to focus on low prices and bargains through the end of December.”

Shoppers’ destination of choice over the past weekend seemed to be department stores, with nearly half (49.4%) of holiday shoppers visiting at least one, a 12.9% increase from last year. Discount retailers took an uncharacteristic back seat, with 43.2% of holiday shoppers heading to discount stores over the weekend and another 7.8% heading to outlet stores.

“In an economy like this one, every retailer wants to be a discounter,” Mullin said. “Department stores have done an admirable job touting both low prices and good quality, which are important requirements for holiday shoppers on a budget.”

In order to nab the best holiday items, more shoppers headed out for bargains while it was still dark outside. According to the survey, nearly one-third of shoppers (31.2%) were at the stores by 5 a.m., compared with 23.3% who were at stores by that time last year.

“During a more robust economy, people may be inclined to hit the ‘snooze’ button on Black Friday, but high unemployment and a focus on price caused shoppers to visit stores early in anticipation of the best deals,” said Phil Rist, EVP strategic initiatives for BIGresearch.

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Kerr Drug evolves retail pharmacy with revamped community health center concept

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK Pharmacogenomics in Aisle 1?

Not quite, but the continued evolution of Kerr’s Community Healthcare Center store concept certainly offers a glimpse into what role community pharmacy could play in the American healthcare system of the future — and it goes far beyond just MTM. Like the deal CVS Caremark announced last week with Generation Health, pharmacogenomics, the study of how genetics influence drug response, represents the new frontier of community pharmacy.

In fairness, pharmacogenomics has been a part of the specialty pharmacy business for some time; given the cost of many of these drugs, the investment in DNA testing to optimize therapy is a no-brainer. But, projects like Kerr’s pilot with UNC’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy, which will focus on patients taking Plavix, target the long-term savings generated by patients on traditional drug therapies getting the most out of those medications. These types of programs will be instrumental in demonstrating community pharmacy’s value beyond simply dispensing.

It is important to note that all of the stories about innovation in community pharmacy are not generated solely by the likes of CVS Caremark and Walgreens, though clearly they are the leaders. But the story of Kerr and its Community Healthcare Center concept are an important reminder of the innovation and leadership that also continues to come out of Chapel Hill, N.C.

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Study finds hypertension best treated by doctor-pharmacist collaboration

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK If anyone still doubted the extraordinary contributions that pharmacists can bring to the nation’s costly and overloaded healthcare system, the Nov. 23 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine should lay their doubts to rest. In a report on a new and innovative approach to treating hypertension, the publication highlighted the impact that a true working collaboration between doctors and pharmacists can have on successful patient outcomes.

The report, lead-authored by Barry Carter of the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy, focused on a study of 402 people treated for high blood pressure at six clinics. Those patients were divided into two groups. Half the patients comprised a control group and were given a traditional treatment regimen for hypertension, where a prescription is written by an attending physician and the pharmacist’s role is simply to fill the script and provide basic initial counseling.

The other group was luckier. Those patients were ushered into a 21st-century style of medical practice and wellness. Their condition was managed and monitored by teams of physicians and pharmacists who were trained to adjust dosage regimens, and even the drugs dispensed, based on the patient’s ongoing condition.

The results were dramatic. After a six-month trial, 30% of patients in the control group were able to get their blood pressure down to recommended levels. More than twice as many of the patients who participated in a doctor-pharmacist team approach — 64% if them, to be exact — achieved the same improvement.

A few forward-looking health plans and insurers, such as Kaiser Permanente and the Department of Veterans Affairs — along with some of the most progressive university-affiliated medical centers, such as the Cleveland Clinic and Duke University — already pursue some collaborative-care programs. Hopefully, the results of the hypertension study will spur more such efforts.

 

Amid the nation’s urgent search for health reform and solutions to the unsustainable rise in chronic healthcare costs, it’s an idea whose time is long overdue.

 

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