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Walgreens captures early indications that flu season has arrived

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. – To date, the cough, cold and flu season of 2015/2016 has been lackluster at best. But the season may finally be kicking into high gear, according to the latest Walgreens Flu Index, a heat map showing the progression of flu incidence, released Thursday. 
 
While activity remains relatively low across most of the U.S., The Walgreens Flu Index data continues to suggest slight increases in flu activity in a number of markets, including Las Vegas and several markets in the deep South. 
 
For the week of Jan. 3, Walgreens' top 10 markets with flu activity were: 
 
  1. Harlingen – Weslaco-Brownsville – McAllen, Texas;
  2. Las Vegas;
  3. Miami – Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.;
  4. Oklahoma City;
  5. El Paso, Texas (Las Cruses, N.M.);
  6. Beaumont – Port Arthur, Texas;
  7. Montgomery – Selma, Ala.;
  8. Phoenix (Prescott), Ariz.;
  9. Knoxville, Tenn.; and
  10. Louisville, Ky.
 
The top 10 markets as measured by flu activity gains were: 
 
  1. Beaumont – Port Arthur, Texas;
  2. Bakersfield, Calif.;
  3. Monterey – Salinas, Calif.;
  4. Las Vegas;
  5. Louisville, Ky.;
  6. Los Angeles;
  7. Raleigh – Durham (Fayetteville), N.C.;
  8. Phoenix (Prescott), Ariz.;
  9. Tri-Cities, Tenn. – Va.; and
  10. Flint – Saginaw – Bay City, Mich.
 
The Walgreens Flu Index is a weekly report developed to provide state- and market-specific information, and ranking of those experiencing the highest incidences of influenza across the country. The Flu Index does not provide data measuring actual levels or severity of flu activity, but rather, illustrates which populations are experiencing the most incidences each week based on Index methodology.
 
The Walgreens Flu Index is compiled using weekly retail prescription data for antiviral medications used to treat influenza across Walgreens locations nationwide. The data is analyzed at state and geographic market levels to measure absolute impact and incremental change of antiviral medications on a per store average basis, and does not include markets in which Walgreens has fewer than 10 retail locations.
 
 
 
 
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CVS Health, DoSomething.org tap popular hip-hop duo for stop-smoking campaign

BY Michael Johnsen

 
 
NEW YORK — DoSomething.org, one of the largest organizations for young people and social change, and CVS Health have teamed up for Quitters Always Win, a national campaign that asks young people to create heartfelt, handmade cards to encourage family, friends and neighbors who smoke to quit as their 2016 New Year’s Resolution.
 
“This campaign is a great way to start the year off right and help people achieve their New Year’s resolution to quit smoking,” stated Naomi Hirabayashi, chief marketing officer at DoSomething.org. “Young people love crafting and care about the health of their loved ones. Quitters Always Win gives people who want to quit the extra support they need to help them successfully quit smoking.”
 
To help support the campaign, hip-hop duo Kalin and Myles on Thursday recorded a public service announcement to encourage their fan base, the KAMFAM, and young people across the country to join the campaign. The duo recently released their self-titled full-length debut album via Republic Records to all digital retailers. Upon release, the album vaulted to the Top 10 of the iTunes Overall Top Albums Chart.
 
”We’re so excited about this partnership with DoSomething.org to extend our commitment to help people lead tobacco-free lives and reach young people with tobacco-free messaging in unique and relevant ways,” said Eileen Howard Boone, SVP corporate social responsibility and philanthropy, CVS Health. “We know that seven out of 10 people want to quit smoking, and support from friends and family is one of the most important factors in being successful.”
 
Young people can sign up at DoSomething.org/winner and will receive resources they can include in their card. Young people who sign up and upload a photo of their card will have the chance to win a $5,000 scholarship.
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Strong holiday sales and specialty pharmacy fuel Fred’s 10% December growth

BY Michael Johnsen

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Fred's Super Dollar on Thursday reported a total sales lift of 10% for December to $231.9 million. Comparable store sales for the month rose 2.4% compared with a decline of 1.4% in the year-earlier period. 
 
"We are pleased to report solid sales results for December, which reflected the success of our merchandising programs designed for the holiday season and, in the case of total sales, recent growth in our specialty pharmacy department," stated Jerry Shore, Fred's CEO. "December comparable store sales were driven by strong general merchandise department sales, with increases in holiday gift-giving categories as well as continued balance in our sales mix across all categories. On the other hand, comparable sales for our retail pharmacy department were negatively affected in December by a very low incidence of cold and flu activity, which reduced December overall comparable store sales by approximately 125 basis points."
 
Fred's total sales for the first 11 months of 2015 increased 9% to $2 billion as compared to the same period last year.
 
Fred's operates 659 discount general merchandise stores and three specialty pharmacy-only locations in 15 states in the southeastern United States. Included in the store count are 18 franchised locations. Also, there are 376 full-service pharmacy departments located within the company's stores. 
 
 
 
 
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