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Walgreens Flu Index reports illness extension into Alaska, Hawaii

BY Michael Johnsen

As flu incidence begins to wind down across the country, albeit slowly, Alaska and Hawaii are seeing signficant gains in flu incidence as the top two states with increased flu activity according to the Walgreens Flu Index published Wednesday. Stateside, the flu is still predominant across several markets in the Lone Star state, however.

For the week ended Feb. 24, the top 10 designated market areas with flu activity were:

  1. Lincoln & Hastings-Kearney, Neb.;
  2. Oklahoma City;
  3. Harlingen-Weslaco-Brownsville-McAllen, Texas;
  4. Waco-Temple-Bryan, Texas;
  5. Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas;
  6. El Paso, Texas (Las Cruces, N.M.);
  7. Omaha, Neb.;
  8. Paducah, Ky.-Cape Girardeau, Mo.-Harrisburg, Ill.;
  9. Little Rock-Pine Bluff, Ark.; and
  10. Austin, Texas.

The top 10 DMAs with flu activity gains were:

  1. Lincoln & Hastings-Kearney, Neb.;
  2. Anchorage, Alaska;
  3. Spokane, Wash.;
  4. La Crosse-Eau Claire, Wis.;
  5. Albany-Schenectady-Troy, N.Y.;
  6. Toledo, Ohio;
  7. Yakima-Pasco-Richland-Kennewick, Wash.;
  8. Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, Calif.;
  9. Honolulu; and
  10. Portland, Ore.

The Walgreens Flu Index is a weekly report developed to provide state- and market-specific information regarding flu activity, and ranks those states and markets experiencing the highest incidences of influenza across the country.

The Flu Index provides insight by showing which cities or metropolitan areas are experiencing the most incidences of influenza each week based on Index methodology. The data does not measure actual levels or severity of flu activity.

The Walgreens Flu Index is compiled using weekly retail prescription data for antiviral medications used to treat influenza across Walgreens and Duane Reade locations nationwide, including Walgreens locations in Puerto Rico. 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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Ahold Delhaize’s U.S. operations post $43.4 billion in annual sales

BY Michael Johnsen

Ahold Delhaize closed its first full year operating as a whole unit on a strong note, with Ahold USA recording fourth quarter net sales of $6.6 billion on 1.1% growth and Delhaize America posting $4.3 billion in net sales on 1.4% growth. For the year, Ahold USA generated $26 billion in net sales and Delhaize America $17.4 billion.

“Both Ahold USA and Delhaize America reported strong underlying operating margins, driven by synergies,” Dick Boer, CEO Ahold Delhaize, said. “Inflation remained at low levels and volumes at Food Lion continued to benefit from the implementation of its ‘Easy, Fresh and Affordable’ program that has now been rolled out to more than half of its store base. Hannaford reported its 15th consecutive quarter with positive comparable sales growth.”

During the quarter, Giant Carlisle opened eight new in-store Beer & Wine Eatery locations featuring an expanded assortment of wines, beers and fast-casual food that helps increase the grocer’s transaction count. At year end, Giant Carlisle operated 54 of these eateries.

Peapod, Ahold USA’s online grocer, raised its customer satisfaction index by improving key drivers such as on-time delivery, available delivery slots, in-stock items, value perception and the user-friendliness of its website.

On the Delhaize America side of the business, Hannaford further expanded its click-and-collect service as a convenience solution to the markets it serves. “We have been building continuously on the Hannaford To Go concept, where I think we’re close to 50 stores now where we offer click-and-collect,” Boer told shareholders Wednesday.

Delhazie America also has been investing significantly in its customer loyalty programs. Food Lion successfully completed the pilot of its “Shop & Earn” digital loyalty program, which offers customers the opportunity to receive personalized savings on the products and categories they shop the most. And at Hannaford, the “My Hannaford Rewards” loyalty program became available to more stores during the quarter with the banner-wide launch in January 2018. The program is a reinvention of grocery store loyalty programs providing further incentives to customers buying own-brand items, in addition to already-low prices.

Those loyalty programs become more critical moving forward in a price-competitive market. “The U.S. is a competitive market at the moment,” Jeffrey Carr, Ahold Delhaize CFO, told shareholders. “The stronger players are investing in price. And certainly, Walmart has been investing in price. … We’ve been maintaining our price gap to Walmart [and] we’ll continue to seek to maintain those price gaps to the discounters, including Walmart, and relative to our supermarket peers.”

 

 

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Rite Aid’s EnvisionPharmacies gains PCAB accreditation

BY Michael Johnsen

EnvisionPharmacies, a division of the Rite Aid subsidiary EnvisionRxOptions, announced that its compounding pharmacy received accreditation from the Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation Board, a service of Accreditation Commission for Health Care. EnvisionPharmacies also holds accreditation for both Mail and Specialty Pharmacy from URAC, a healthcare management accrediting organization.

“Compounded medications can be a lifesaver for patients who are unable to take commercially available drugs because of allergies or difficulty swallowing,” said Bruce Scott, president of EnvisionPharmacies. “For patients with unique therapeutic needs, compounded medications are a highly customized, cost-effective option to provide clinically necessary therapies.”

PCAB assesses pharmacies that compound medications by combining, mixing or altering drug ingredients to create a medication as prescribed for an individual patient. The accreditation process includes an extensive onsite survey conducted by an independent expert and annual verification to ensure compliance with the pharmacy compounding process defined by the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention guidelines.

The practice of compounding medications has received recent attention for both affordability and quality. EnvisionPharmacies employs highly trained pharmacists who prepare safe, effective, custom compounded medications by mixing individual ingredients in the precise strength and dosage prescribed for an individual patient. Prepared in a state-of-the-art lab to prevent cross contamination, compounded medications available from EnvisionPharmacies include allergen-free preparations, formulations for patients who have trouble swallowing or taste sensitivities, and combinations of multiple medications made into a single dose form. Achieved by a select number of compounding pharmacies nationally, accreditation from PCAB validates EnvisionPharmacies’ commitment to safe practices, and offers an affordable solution for employers and health plans.

“PCAB Accreditation allows pharmacies to distinguish themselves as a high-quality pharmacy, committed to the highest compounding standards” said Jon Pritchett, associate director of pharmacy for PCAB. “EnvisionPharmacies has successfully demonstrated its ability to develop high quality, safe and effective compound medications to meet the unique needs of their patients.”

“Through the process of accreditation, PCAB has evaluated every series of action we take in the lab,” explained Allison Shuster, manager, Compounding department for EnvisionPharmacies. “This is vital for patient safety, as every product is compounded by hand from formulas uniquely created for each individual patient’s individual needs. PCAB Accreditation recognizes our commitment to provide the highest quality compounded medications for all our patients and maintains that we follow the best practices in the industry.”

 

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