Safeway Q1 sales up 1%
PLEASANTON, Calif. — Safeway on Wednesday afternoon posted sales of $8.3 billion in the first quarter of 2014, representing an increase of 1%. The slight uptick in sales was primarily attributed to an identical-store sales (excluding fuel) increase of 1.8%, partly offset by lower fuel sales in 2014.
The identical-store sales (excluding fuel) increase of 1.8% consists of a 1% increase in price per item and a 0.8% increase in volume. Safeway's share of sales in all outlet channels increased slightly, and sales to its most loyal households improved during the quarter.
"We are working diligently to close the merger with Albertsons by the fourth quarter," stated Robert Edwards, Safeway president & CEO. "While sales met plan in the first quarter, income was slightly below plan, in part as a result of inflation in produce, meat and pharmacy that was not fully passed along for competitive reasons," he said. "In the second quarter of 2014, identical-stores sales are currently running well above 2%, and we expect to pass along most of the inflation we are experiencing. In addition, the direct and indirect cost initiatives we are implementing are expected to improve profitability in the second half of 2014."
Safeway continues to drive sales momentum through its center of store remodels, as well as merchandising premium, Hispanic and Asian products to meet local demographic needs, Edwards reported. "In addition, our sales of organic and natural products continue to grow at a rapid pace, with our private label brands O Organics and Open Nature growing approximately two times faster than the rest of the market."
NACDS applauds bills to advance better care for chronically ill patients
ARLINGTON, Va. — Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives to advance better care for Medicare patients with chronic conditions. The bills have received the support of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, which sent letters to Senate Finance Committee chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and U.S. Reps. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., and Peter Welch, D-Vt.
Specifically, the “Better Care, Lower Costs Act” (S. 1932 and H.R. 3890) would amend the Social Security Act to establish a Medicare Better Care Program to provide integrated care for Medicare patients with chronic conditions.
“Your legislation will promote accountability and better care management for chronically ill patients and provide coordinated services under Parts A, B and D, while recognizing that pharmacists and pharmacy services have great potential to improve care for patients with chronic health conditions,” NACDS stated in the letter.
Better Care Programs provide a coordinated care approach for patients with chronic conditions to help them manage their health.
“We support the concept of using Better Care Programs to provide fully-integrated medical care for people with chronic health conditions,” the letter stated.
The letter also emphasized the increasing role of pharmacy care and services in improving patient health and making healthcare more affordable, and the recognition by lawmakers of that increased role.
“As the demand for healthcare services continues to grow, pharmacists have expanded their role in healthcare delivery, partnering with physicians, nurses, and other healthcare providers to meet their patients’ needs. By providing services that allow patients to take their medications more effectively and by providing preventive services, pharmacists help patients avoid more costly forms of care down the line,” NACDS stated in the letter.
“Pharmacy services improve quality of life and healthcare affordability. We are happy that the effectiveness of pharmacists in delivering patient care is resonating with policymakers,” NACDS concluded in the letter.
Easter traffic, sales dip in 2014
NEW YORK — The eight-day run up to Easter 2014 fell shy of the previous year’s comparable period by 9.3% in traffic and 8.9% in sales. According to data from retail analytics provider RetailNext, there was a 1.2 percentage-point improvement in conversion, which helped generate a sales decline that was less than the traffic decline.
Average transaction value was down by 1.9% leading up to Easter Sunday, with sales-per-shopper up by 0.4 percentage points. Friday, April 18 saw higher conversion than Good Friday in 2013, along with smaller traffic and sales declines seen for the eight-day period leading up to Easter and even before Easter.
According to RetailNext, possible reasons for the decline in 2014 include Easter coming a couple of weeks after the Daylight Savings Time adjustment (as compared with 2013 when Easter was more than a month after the adjustment), a period that typically sees positive sales trends. Along those lines, Easter 2013 coincided with the start of spring, a time typically characterized by clear weather and more outdoor activity.