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Active flu season lifts Rite Aid in January

BY CSA STAFF

A stronger than average flu season helped Rite Aid post an increase in same store sales for January.

The company reported a 4.8% increase in same-store sales for the four weeks ended Jan. 24. Rite Aid's January front-end same-store sales increased 2.9%.

According to Credit Suisse research analyst Ed Kelly, overall drugstore front-end sales growth, as reported by Nielsen, accelerated for the period ended Jan. 17 with industry sales rising 1.1% vs. last month's 2.1% decline. "The HBA department, which includes OTC drugs, saw its highest growth — plus 6% year-over-year — since the 2012/2013 flu season," Kelly said. "Underlying trends clearly improved with the help of strong OTC performance in the midst of an active flu season."

Pharmacy same-store sales, which included an approximate 114 basis points negative impact from new generic introductions, increased 5.7%. Prescription count at comparable stores increased 3.5% over the prior-year period. Total drug store sales for the four-week period increased 4.3% to $2 billion. Prescription sales accounted for 70.3% of drug store sales, and third party prescription sales represented 97.3% of pharmacy sales.

Same-store sales for the 47-week period ended Jan. 24 increased 4.4% over the prior-year period. Front-end same-store sales increased 1.2% while pharmacy same-store sales increased 5.9%. Prescription count at comparable stores increased 3.6% over the prior-year period. Total drug store sales for the 47 weeks ended Jan. 24 increased 3.9% with sales of $23.8 billion.

Prescription sales represented 68.7% of total drug store sales, and third party prescription sales represented 97.5% of pharmacy sales.

The results mark a decrease from the company’s sales figures in December, when it posted 5.3% same-store sales growth and 4.9% growth in overall drugstore sales.

Rite Aid reported its sales for January more than a week after rival Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. said it would cease issuing monthly sales reports. Instead, the company will opt to explain its performance in quarterly reports.

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