Rite Aid sales 'solid' in March

Analyst attributes comps growth to warm weather, early Easter

CAMP HILL, Pa. — Rite Aid's comparable-store sales increased by 3.6% in March, while total drug store sales increased by 3.1%, the retail pharmacy chain said Thursday.

Front-end comps increased by 4.6%, while pharmacy comps increased by 3.2%. Total sales were nearly $2 billion, compared with $1.93 billion in March 2011.

John Heinbockel, an analyst with New York investment bank Guggenheim Partners, called Rite Aid's March sales "solid" and in line with the firm's same-store sales growth projection of 3.7%, while the growth in front-end comps exceeded the forecasted 3%. Heinbockel said the growth in comps was due to a "clear, but hard-to-quantify" benefit from warm weather that led to strong sales of beverages and skin care products, as well as the earlier Easter.

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