Drug channel November front-end sales will be comparable to last year

NEW YORK — November front-end drug store sales are expected to be comparable to last year while prescriptions dispensed will be up in the low single-digit range, similar to October, reported Ed Kelly, Credit Suisse research analyst, in a note published Friday. 
 
"The front-end promotional and overall competitive environment was likely little changed in November, as staples retailers remain focused on value to drive traffic," he wrote. "Overall we believe volume trends continue to be impacted by the drug stores’ relatively high pricing and lack of product differentiation against an intense competitive environment."
 
Citing IMS Health, Kelly reported that the average script growth through the first two weeks of November was up 2.8%. Flu activity is comparable to last year, though the continued growth of flu shots at retail may provide a slight lift in comparable store sales, he said. 
 
Kelly projects that both Rite Aid and Walgreens — two chains that will report their November sales later this week — will realize total same-store sales increases of around 4%. 
 
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