Weather cools, sales hot at Walgreens

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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