Rite Aid's February sales increase

CAMP HILL, Pa. — February sales at Rite Aid increased 1% over the prior-year period, while the chain's front-end and pharmacy same-store sales increased 1.1% and 0.9%, respectively.

Total drug store sales for the five-week period increased 0.1% to about $2.44 billion, Rite Aid reported.

The earnings were below expectations issued by Credit Suisse analyst Edward Kelly in a research note released Monday, which projected a 1.5% to 2% increase in comparable sales for Rite Aid versus consensus of 0.5%. Kelly added that he believed pharmacy comparable sales would see a 1.5% boost, while the chain's front-end sales would rise 2.5%, thanks to increased traffic from the chain's loyalty program, Wellness+.

Meanwhile, Rite Aid’s sales for the 13-week fourth quarter, which ended Feb. 26, totaled $6.43 billion, compared with nearly $6.44 billion in fourth quarter 2010, the retail pharmacy chain said Thursday.

Despite the slight decrease in total store sales, same-store sales for the quarter increased 0.9%, and front-end same-store sales increased by 1%, compared with last year. Same-store prescriptions filled increased 0.8%.

Total store sales for the fiscal year were $25.1 billion, a 1.8% decrease from last year’s $25.6 billion. Same-store sales decreased by 0.7%, including a 0.3% decrease in front-end sales and a 0.9% decrease in pharmacy sales. Prescription sales accounted for 67.8% of the total, while third-party prescription sales constituted 96.2% of pharmacy sales.