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Weather cools, sales hot at Walgreens

BY Allison Cerra

DEERFIELD, Ill. September was a good month for Walgreens, as the drug store chain reported a 5.3% increase in its sales, compared with the same time last year.

Sales totaled $5.64 billion, compared with $5.36 billion in September in fiscal 2010. Walgreens also attributed its sales increase to its Duane Reade acquisition, which contributed 2.8 percentage points to the total sales increase for the month.

Comparable-store sales rose 0.4%. Duane Reade stores are not included in any comparable-store results, Walgreens noted.

For the pharmacy sector, Walgreens said September sales increased 4.1%, while comparable-pharmacy sales increased 0.3%. Pharmacy sales accounted for 66.9% of total sales for the month.

The drug store chain also added that as the flu season has commenced, flu shots administered at Walgreens pharmacies and clinics during September totaled approximately 2 million, with nearly 2.25 million flu shots having been administered season-to-date.

“We’re pleased with the number of flu shots we’ve already administered,” said Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy services. “Although we faced difficult comparisons for the month as a result of last year’s H1N1 pandemic and flu vaccine demand, we already have administered nearly 40% of the approximately 5 million shots we provided in the first quarter of last fiscal year when we ran out of vaccine in the latter part of the quarter. This year, we are well-stocked with flu shots and are still nearly five months away from the typical peak in flu incidences in the month of February.”

For its front end, the chain saw an increase of 8.5%, including 5.1 percentage points from Duane Reade. Similarly, same-store front-end sales increased 0.7%, although customer traffic in comparable stores decreased 1.5%, while basket size increased 2.2%.

At Sept. 30, Walgreens operated 8,065 locations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam.

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Safeway kicks off 10th annual breast cancer awareness initiative

BY Allison Cerra

PLEASANTON, Calif. Safeway kicked off its annual breast cancer awareness initiative for the 10th year in a row, and thanked customers for donating nearly $80 million for the cause since 2001.

Each October, Safeway’s 1,700-plus stores in the United States and Canada collect donations for breast cancer research and treatment.

“Medical science in the fight against breast cancer has come a long way in the past decade. We’re glad that we could be a part of the evolution and honored that our efforts have helped save lives,” said Larree Renda, Safeway EVP and chair of the Safeway Foundation. “The encouraging research results and the utilization of services to aid in early detection are proof of the power of partnerships between businesses and medical science.”

Safeway’s breast cancer awareness fundraiser is the second of two annual cancer campaigns. Each June, Safeway raises money to combat prostate cancer, one of the most prevalent forms of cancer in men. To date, the company has raised more than $144 million for cancer causes.

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Romance lives on with three new Blu-ray films

BY Allison Cerra

BURBANK, Calif. Warner Home Video is feeling the love.

A trio of romantic films from Warner Home Video will be available on Blu-ray Feb. 1, 2011, including "10," "Pleasantville" and "You’ve Got Mail," all for a suggested retail price of $19.98 each.

"10," which stars Dudley Moore, Julie Andrews and Bo Derek, is a comedy that follows Moore’s pursuit of a beautiful woman (Derek), despite having it all. "Pleasantville" stars Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon as two teens zapped into a black-and-white 1950s sitcom who then realize the importance of a bold and colorful world. And "You’ve Got Mail" stars Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, who fall in love over the Internet while also being business rivals in the real world.

Each film includes special features, from theatrical trailers to guest commentaries. The Blu-ray editions of the films will be available nationwide wherever videos are sold.

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