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Walgreens joins CCA

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — Walgreens on Friday joined the Care Continuum Alliance, an alliance of more than 200 stakeholders providing services across the continuum of care — from wellness and prevention to chronic condition management and complex care management.

"Our mission every day is to provide customers and patients support to help them live a ‘well’ life," stated Walgreens chief medical officer Cheryl Pegus. "With more than 8,500 points of care, including Walgreens drug stores within three miles of 63% of the U.S. population, we are uniquely positioned to serve as a true community healthcare resource. Together, our pharmacists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, home care nurses and other healthcare professionals provide guidance and solutions to improve disease prevention, adherence to medications and chronic disease management for tens of millions of patients each year."

"[Walgreens’] work to promote healthful lifestyles and empower consumers to reduce risk aligns with our mission to improve care quality and value, particularly for people with or at risk of chronic disease,” stated Tracey Moorhead, Care Continuum president and CEO.

The Care Continuum Alliance has focused considerable effort in recent years on improving employee health and productivity, particularly through research on outcomes measurement. Its Outcomes Guidelines project has produced consensus clinical and financial measures for wellness and population health management programs, as well as guidance on such other key outcomes as medication adherence. The Care Continuum Alliance also has advocated successfully for greater support of wellness and prevention in federal programs and in the private market.

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Improving weather, tax returns benefit Fred’s

BY Michael Johnsen

MEMPHIS — Fred’s on Thursday posted a 2% increase in sales totaling $153.6 million for the four weeks ended Feb. 26. Comparable-store sales for the month rose 0.9% versus an increase of 2% in the same period last year.

"February sales were on plan in spite of harsh weather early in the month,” stated Fred’s CEO Bruce Efird. “As February progressed, with the weather rebounding and customers beginning to receive tax refunds, both customer traffic and sales improved. Overall, we were pleased to see strengthening sales in the last half of February, reflecting a balanced mix of increased customer traffic and an uptick in the average purchase amount."

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Rising gas prices not only factor driving supply chain costs

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The National Retail Federation warned federal transportation officials that transportation costs would increase by up to 20% in some cases if a proposal to limit the number of hours truck drivers spend behind the wheel each day goes into effect.

In addition to dramatically increasing costs, the safety proposal also would make highways a little less safe for the general public by putting more trucks on the road during the most congested hours, the NRF argued.

“As a result of the current 11-hour daily driving limit, U.S. retailers have been able to achieve significant efficiencies within their supply chains and distribution networks,” stated NRF SVP government relations David French. “Any change to this daily driving limit will upset the careful balance and efficiencies that have been achieved and require changes to those new systems and processes. In addition, such changes could result in significantly higher transportation costs and could lead to less safety as additional drivers and trucks will be required to make up for the shortfall.”

Proposed changes would increase transportation costs by anywhere from 3% to 20% depending on a specific retailer’s supply chain network and operations, French said. Retailers already are talking about passing along projected 1% inflationary cost increases to the consumer, and the thinking goes that this cost increase would be passed along as well.

French’s remarks came in comments filed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in response to a proposal that potentially would decrease the current 11-hour on-duty “hours of service” limit for drivers, in effect since the beginning of 2004, to a 10-hour limit. In addition, the 34 hours of time off currently required between each week of driving now would have to include at least two midnight-to-6 a.m. periods of nighttime rest.

Supporters of the proposal said it would result in fewer fatigued drivers on the road and help reduce accidents. But NRF is concerned that shortening the daily driving limit would require more drivers and more trucks to move the same volume of goods during the same time period.

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