Walgreens comps rise for April

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Sales for Walgreens during the month of April edged up 5.5%, thanks to a boost in both front-end and pharmacy sectors.

The drug store chain said that total front-end sales experienced a 9.4% boost, while comparable front-end sales benefited from the later Easter holiday with a 6.5% increase.

On the pharmacy front, sales increased 3.5%, while comparable-pharmacy sales increased 1.8%, accounting for 64.4% of total sales for the month. Prescriptions filled at comparable stores increased 2.3% in April. Calendar day shifts, however, negatively impacted prescriptions filled in comparable stores by 1.9 percentage points, Walgreens reported, adding that the recent over-the-counter switch of allergy drug Allegra negatively impacted prescriptions filled by 0.3 percentage point.

Customer traffic in comparable stores increased 2.3%, while basket size increased 4.2%.

April sales in overall comparable stores increased 3.4% for the chain, which was negatively impacted by 1.2 percentage points due to the calendar day shift. On a combined basis, comparable-store sales for the March/April period rose 3.3%, marking a 6.7% rise from the same two months in 2010. Additionally, comparable-store front-end sales for the combined March/April period increased by 4.1%, while customer traffic in comparable stores increased 1.6% and basket size increased 2.5%.

Duane Reade stores are not included in any comparable-store results, Walgreens noted.

Walgreens noted that its overall April sales rose to nearly $6 billion for the month, compared with about $5.7 billion in April 2010, and attributed a 0.7 percentage point contribution from Duane Reade.