Shoppers Drug Mart waives seniors' co-pays in Ontario, realizes 6% lift in prescriptions filled

TORONTO – Waiving $2 co-pays in Ontario is a big piece of the reason behind a 6% lift in prescriptions dispensed for the third quarter through Oct. 6, Shoppers Drug Mart reported Tuesday afternoon. It's all part of a strategy to drive more seniors — and their prescriptions — into the store, executives told analysts. "We're seeing store gains across the country," noted Domenic Pilla, Shoppers president and CEO. "The incremental script count is above our initial expectations," he said. The number of prescriptions dispensed in year-ago comparisons also were up 5%, the company reported. 

Generic prescriptions accounted for 60.1% of all prescriptions dispensed for the quarter, compared to 56.9% last year. Overall, pharmacy sales accounted for 48% of total sales. 

That robust pharmacy volume at Shoppers Drug Mart helped drive $3.2 billion in third-quarter sales, up 3.2%, for the period ended Oct. 6. Overall same-store sales were up 2.3%. 

Pharmacy sales totaled $1.5 billion, an increase of 1.7%, while on a same-store basis, pharmacy sales increased 0.9% during the quarter. 

Shoppers' strong pedigree across beauty is helping to boost front-end sales across the front-end, as Shoppers took in $1.7 billion in front-end sales, up 4.6%. On a same-store basis, front store sales increased 3.6% during the quarter. "The growth is coming throughout the beauty business," Pilla said, as Shoppers Drug Mart has become the launch pad for many beauty brands in Canada. "We are getting and attracting more brands and SKUs to our value proposition," Pilla said. "We're winning with new. … We're very proud of that, as we [have] become the destination for new launches for beauty in Canada."

In 2013, Shoppers will realize its initial projections of 350 Beauty Boutiques across the country. Presently, Shoppers operates 322 Beauty Boutiques, and plans to open at least 20 additional boutiques through next year.