CVS clusters consumables in new urban store concept

NEW YORK —CVS/pharmacy has always prided itself on convenience, but the retailer clearly is raising the bar with the rollout of its Urban Cluster store concept.

The company expected to have 300 of its 7,100-plus stores converted to the concept by the end of the year, and expected to have a total of 1,300 to 1,400 stores reset to the concept over the next few years, according to company spokesman Mike DeAngelis.

During a recent tour of a newly reset Urban Cluster store in New York’s Union Square, Drug Store News got a firsthand glimpse at how the retailer is looking to better meet the needs of neighborhood residents and tourists staying at the nearby W Hotel.

Upon entering the store, it is clear to see the significant focus on consumables, which in the reset was expanded and moved to the left side of the store to be near the door—a prominent location that makes the section impossible to overlook and easy to access. With a Morton Williams supermarket about five blocks north and a busy Whole Foods on the south end of Union Square, the new CVS Urban Cluster concept store is a more convenient quick-trip option for W Hotel guests who are just steps away from the CVS, which also has a Healthy Skincare Center.

Located right at the entrance is an expansive Grab & Go prepared foods section, offering an array of prepared sandwiches, salads and fresh fruit individually wrapped for cleanliness, as well as an assortment of such healthy beverages as Muscle Milk and Zico coconut water. A large cooler section houses deli meats, cheese, frozen foods, yogurt, soda and beer.

The Grab & Go also features an expanded pantry offering. The store also has a greater assortment of household and baby offerings, and an expanded travel-size section and selection of wines, which are priced at less than $7 a bottle.

CVS isn’t alone in its efforts to offer shoppers more food options. In May 2009, Walgreens unveiled its first expanded food concept in a revamped Walgreens store in Chicago’s Near West Side. The goal: To fill in “food deserts” by offering such grocery items as fresh fruits and vegetables, frozen meats and fish to those residents living in neighborhoods that have limited access to supermarkets.

To date, Walgreens has redesigned 10 of its stores on Chicago’s South and West Sides to include more than 750 new food items.