Walgreens reports comp sales lift of 3.1% despite slow flu season start

Front-end results also strong

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Wednesday reported September sales of $6 billion, an increase of 5.4%. Sales in comparable stores increased 3.1%. The effect of calendar day shifts negatively impacted total comparable sales by 10 basis points.

Total front-end sales increased 5.1% in September, while comparable front-end sales increased 3.4%. Customer traffic in comparable stores increased 0.2% and comparable basket size increased 3.2%. According to Credit Suisse analyst Edward Kelly, strong front-end results are being "driven by re-inflation, improved merchandising and store remodels."

Prescriptions filled at comparable stores increased 1.9% in September. Calendar day shifts in September — which had one additional Friday and one fewer Wednesday, compared with September 2010 — negatively impacted prescriptions filled in comparable stores by 10 basis points. Lower incidence of flu negatively impacted comparable prescriptions filled by 70 basis points. Prescriptions filled at comparable stores also were negatively impacted by 70 basis points, due to fewer flu shots versus last year.

September pharmacy sales increased 4.6%, while comparable pharmacy sales increased 3%. Calendar day shifts negatively impacted pharmacy sales in comparable stores by 10 basis points. Comparable pharmacy sales were negatively impacted by another 170 basis points due to generic drug introductions in the last 12 months and by 110 basis points due to lower incidence of cough, cold and flu. Comparable pharmacy sales also were negatively impacted by 30 basis points due to fewer flu shots. Pharmacy sales accounted for 66.4% of total sales for the month.

Flu shots administered at pharmacies and clinics season-to-date were nearly 1.9 million, versus approximately 2.3 million last year.

“While we once again are seeing a slower start to the flu season, we have seen increased demand for flu shots in recent weeks,” stated Kermit Crawford, president of pharmacy, health and wellness division.

Walgreens opened 16 stores during September, including two relocations, and acquired four.

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