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More consumers plan to boost spending during BTS season

BY Allison Cerra

LOS ANGELES — Nearly half of U.S. shoppers plan to spend more this back-to-school shopping season than in 2011, according to a recent PriceGrabber survey.

The survey pooled responses from 4,450 U.S. online shopping consumers, with 1,509 of the respondents planning to shop this back-to-school season. Of the respondents planning to shop this BTS season, 46% said they plan to spend more this year than in 2011, while 35% said they plan to spend the same amount, compared with 52% that expressed this sentiment in 2011 and 19% are looking to spend less this year, compared with 35% in 2011.

When it comes to when consumers plan to begin shopping for back to school, PriceGrabber found that 17% of consumers plan to start their back-to-school shopping in June, 35% plan to start shopping in July, 44% noted August and 3% said September. Similar to last year, shoppers still plan to spread out their back-to-school purchases in order to distribute the cost over a longer time period. According to PriceGrabber survey data, 55% of consumers plan to spread out their back-to-school purchases this year.

"From last year’s holiday shopping season through the middle of 2012, we have seen consumers starting to shop earlier surrounding major shopping seasons and holidays, and we expect this trend to continue this back-to-school shopping season," PriceGrabber general manager Graham Jones said. "While PriceGrabber survey data reveals that many consumers are planning to spend more money this back-to-school shopping season, a few are still hesitant about spending, leading shoppers to search for deals even earlier to take advantage of retailer incentives and discounts, such as free shipping, coupons and sales."

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Indies continue to trump chains on service

BY Rob Eder

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — One area in which independent pharmacies always had the chains beat was in service — that is, if you believe any of those pesky consumer surveys.

(THE NEWS: White paper: Independent pharmacist recommendations drive sharper growth across certain OTCs. For the full story, click here)

In general, people tend to give indie pharmacists higher mark on such things as advice and consultations, and even product recommendations. That it is reflected in sales numbers is not surprising — first aid remedies versus bandages is a strong illustration.

But as Bob Dylan sang, "The Times They Are A-Changing," or at least they better be. The big drug chains are making investments to get pharmacists and health experts closer to patients. They all acknowledge that in the future, community pharmacy needs to be more than just filling scripts. The drug store of the future will be a place you go not just for products but for services, particularly of the health-and-wellness variety. Walgreens and Rite Aid are putting iPads in the hands of wellness experts (they each call them something else) to amp up the service. Walgreens has reconfigured the pharmacy so the pharmacist sits out in the middle of the healthcare quadrant of the store — it’s as though pharmacy is now one of the three main rings. In Indianapolis, the first market Walgreens converted to its new Well Experience stores, one pharmacy manager started a healthy baby program called Weight Check Wednesdays. Now Walgreens is going to roll the Wellness Experience into downtown Philadelphia.

What do you think? Will the chains ever outdo the indies on service? Post your comments below.

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GSK receives Power of Partnership award from AmeriCares

BY Allison Cerra

SAMTFORD, Conn. — A nonprofit global health and disaster relief organization has recognized a drug maker for its commitment to aiding disaster survivors and increasing access to health care around the world.

AmeriCares gave its Power of Partnership award to GlaxoSmithKline at the Healthcare Distribution Management Association’s Business and Leadership Conference in San Antonio on June 11. AmeriCares said it has partnered with GSK since 1989 to provide more than $168 million worth of medicines to people in need in 120 countries.

"GSK is one of our top donors, in both the quantity and quality of the aid they donate," AmeriCares president and CEO Curt Welling said. "By offering our medical experts a choice of medicines, GSK meets some of the most pressing health needs in the world and helps us make a profound difference in the lives of those who need assistance most."


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