Chains Closing Stores, Opening Fewer

Drug Topics JournalDrug Topics September 2019
Volume 163
Issue 9

More jobs in jeopardy as chains struggle to save expenses.

closed sign

A month after Walmart announced it was laying off 3% of its pharmacy staff, retail pharmacists and technicians got more bad news this week. Walgreens said it is closing 200 underperforming stores in the US, while CVS is looking at closing additional stores and plans to open fewer stores.

Walgreens also said earlier this summer that it is closing 200 stores in the UK. 

The US closures are part of Walgreens “transformational cost management program” to save $1.5 billion in annual expenses by fiscal year 2022.

“As previously announced, we are undertaking a transformational cost management program to accelerate the ongoing transformation of our business, enable investments in key areas and to become a more efficient enterprise,” Walgreens says in a statement.

“We expect to begin closing stores in the US in the fall of 2019,” Phil Caruso, a spokesperson for Walgreens, tells Drug Topics. Caruso declined to say how many pharmacy positions will be affected by the store closures.

Walgreens anticipates that it can retain the majority of the impacted store team members in other nearby locations, according to its statement. “Given that these closures will represent less than 3% of our stores overall, and given that we have multiple locations in many markets, we anticipate minimal disruption to customers and patients,” Walgreens says.

CVS also said in May that it was closing 46 stores. In June, CVS' head of retail warned it will close unprofitable stores as it evaluates its 500 leases that come up for renewal every year, CNBC reports.

CVS is slashing its new store openings this year and next, according to CVS Pharmacy President Kevin Hourican, CNBC reports.

While it typically opens 300 stores annually, CVS plans to open around 100 stores this year and 50 in 2020, according to Hourican. The real estate growth reduction is "a natural change" given the number of stores CVS has and the growth in areas like delivery, Hourican tells CNBC.

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