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Pharmacy sales help Fred’s in August

BY David Salazar

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Fueled in part by increased pharmacy sales, Fred’s reported Thursday that its August sales hit $165.6 million this year, up 12% over August 2014. When excluding 54 stores that the company has shuttered in the past year, the sales bump is 17% over last August.

The company’s year-to-date sales are reflecting stronger sales, increasing 7% over this time last year to $1.22 billion. Excluding closed stores, sales in the first seven months of this 2015 increased 12%.

Fred’s CEO Jerry Shore attributes the improved August sales to pharmacy sales growth, both retail and specialty, which coincides with steady improvement in general merchandise sales, particularly in the back-to-school category for both stationery and apparel. Other strong general merchandise categories include beauty, toys and domestic items.

“Looking ahead, we expect to see a stronger total and comparable store sales performance in September versus the same month last year as our merchandising and marketing programs continue to gain momentum, we expand our pharmacy department marketing, and as specialty pharmacy grows,” Shore said. “We will continue to make these changes throughout the total store, as we discussed in our recent call, which will produce stronger growth and profitability in the third quarter and beyond."

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Study: Brick-and-mortar still appeals to customers

BY Dan Berthiaume

LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. — Reports of the store’s demise are greatly exaggerated.

According to the annual Global Shopper Study from mobile solutions provider Zebra Technologies Corp., more than three-quarters (76%) of shoppers feel positively about shopping in stores and nearly one-half think that technology solutions are helping retailers enable and improve their shopping experience.

In addition, more than three in 10 shoppers would prefer to go to a retail store to pick up items purchased via online or mobile channels. At the store, consumers are very interested in Wi-Fi and location-based, in-store services such as mobile coupons (51%), shopping maps (45%) and associate assistance (41%).

However, not all is rosy in the world of store-centric omnichannel retail. The study identified that more than one-third of shoppers (34%) believe they are better connected to real-time information than in-store associates. Meanwhile, 64% of shoppers would be willing to purchase more merchandise if they received better customer service and 52% value retailers who use technology to make the in-store experience more efficient.

Other findings include:

  • Retailers can recover 66% of out-of-stock incidents by offering shoppers an immediate discount.
  • Nearly eight in 10 respondents are willing to share some level of information with retailers. But, retailers rank low on the list of institutions that shoppers trust with personal data as only 5% reported they completely trusted retailers.
  • Sixty-four percent of shoppers value retailers who give the flexibility to control how personal information is used to tailor experiences.

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Rite Aid reports August same-store sales

BY David Salazar

CAMP HILL, Penn. — Prescription counts decreased a little and pharmacy same-store sales were up in August, according to numbers reported by Rite Aid Thursday. The company, which also announced its Q2 sales figures, said that overall same-store sales increased by 1.6% in August over the same period last year, and pharmacy store sales were up 2.1% over 2014. The company also saw fewer prescriptions filled and a 222 basis point negative impact from new generic introductions.

As for the quarter, same-store sales rose 2.1% over the same time last year to $6.602 billion. Among drug store sales, prescriptions constituted 69.3% of all sales and third-party prescription sales made up 98.7% of sales. So far in Rite Aid’s fiscal year, drug store sales are up 2.3% over last year to $13.2 billion, with an increase of 3.2% in pharmacy same-store sales. Despite a lower monthly prescription count, so far this year the company has dispensed 0.9% more prescriptions than it did during the same period last year. 

The company also reported that front-end sales rose 0.5% in the first 26 weeks of its fiscal year.

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