CVS, Rite Aid top NRF's hot retailers list

NEW YORK Despite slow growth in the retail industry last year, several retailers have maintained high sales growth, with drug stores leading the way.

CVS Caremark and Rite Aid topped the National Retail Federation’s Hot 100 Retailers List, according to the organization’s STORES magazine.

CVS got to the top of the list by buying the prescription benefits manager Caremark Rx, and Rite Aid earned its position by acquiring the Brooks Pharmacy and Eckerd chains.

“Consistently, we see that acquisition has been the way to the top of the list,” STORES publisher Rick Gallagher said in a conference call Thursday.

But the two chains’ growth also reflected trends in the industry as a whole.

“Certainly, it is a marketplace that is growing not only from acquisition, but also from increasing popularity of the drug store format and the importance of pharmacy,” Gallagher said, noting later that drug stores have become “the new variety store” over the last 10 to 15 years.

During its first full year operating both the drug store and benefits manager, CVS Caremark revenues grew by 74.2 percent, while Rite Aid’s revenues grew by 39.8 percent, according to NRF.

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