Despite travails, it was still an up year for most community R.Ph.s


Independent pharmacy owners and chain drugstore executives rate 2001 as good for business in an exclusive Drug Topics survey.



Despite travails, it was still an up year for most community R.Ph.s

Despite an economy on the skids and terrorist attacks, the vast majority of community pharmacy owners and chain drugstore executives expect to put 2001 in the "win" column.

Among independents surveyed, 43% expect 2001 to be a good year, another 21% think it will be very good, and 10% are aiming for the excellent range. Chain executives are similarly optimistic: half foresee good results; 20% anticipate a very good year; and, if pharmacy business were a fine wine, 7% would rate 2001 as an excellent vintage.

When it comes to net profits, more chain executives (54%) are upbeat about boosting the bottom line with a median increase of 12%. That compares with only 31% of independent owners who foresee higher net profits, with a median increase of 8%. About 25% of the respondents in each camp are braced for falling profits. Among independents, the anticipated median drop is 5%, and pessimistic chain executives predicted a median dip of 5%. But 45% of independents and 21% of chain executives expect to hold the line on net profits.

Some chain executives misread the economic tea leaves last December when they predicted rosy results this year. Only 7% of our chain respondents anticipated "fair" or "poor" results in 2001, but 23% now say business isn't looking up after all. Sixteen percent of independents had predicted a fair or poor year, compared with 26% who figure the actual bottom line numbers will end up with disappointing results.

Pharmacy's generally positive outcome apparently doesn't carry over into the larger retail community. The overall local business climate is only fair to poor, according to 52% of both independent owners and chain executives. Given the uncertainty of a sagging economy and the war on terrorism, it's not surprising that pharmacy owners and executives are split about whether consumers are confident enough to make retail registers go ka-ching.

Among independent owners, 48% think consumer confidence is somewhat positive and 3% think it's very positive. In the chain ranks, 46% opted for somewhat positive and 2% feel very positive about consumers. On the other hand, 48% of both owners and executives characterized local confidence as somewhat negative.

Speaking of negative impact, things are still looking bleak for employers on the hunt for more pharmacists. Among independents, 82% agreed that there is a shortage in their neck of the woods, while 93% of chains reported that a good pharmacist is still hard to find in their area. Eighty-seven percent of independents reported that the shortage is somewhat or extremely severe, compared with 95% of the chain executives who agreed with them. More southern (19%) and eastern (14%) independents said the R.Ph. drought is not at all severe in their environs. Bosses anticipating difficulty hiring R.Ph.s in 2002 are more likely to be chain executives (79%) than independents (59%).

Carol Ukens


Carol Ukens. Despite travails, it was still an up year for most community R.Ph.s.

Drug Topics


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