Walgreens’ (NYSE:WAG) sales in November climbed 4.2% to $6.09 billion with the help of stronger front-end and pharmacy demand that helped offset fewer sick patients and new generic drugs, the company said on Monday.
The Deerfield, Ill.-based drugstore-chain operator attributed the growth to a 4% increase in total front-end sales, with comparable store front-end sales up 2.7%. A 3% jump in basket size helped to offset virtually flat traffic.
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Prescriptions at comparable stores only grew modestly during the period, up 0.6%, due partially to fewer calendar days and a lower incidence of flu that kept people away from the doctor’s office. All together, prescriptions were up 1.5%.
However, pharmacy sales were still up during the period, climbing 3.4% year-over-year, while those at comparable stores increased 1.2%.
The segment continued to be impacted by new generic drug introductions that typically cost less than brand-name treatments as well as fewer sick patients, partially a reflection of this season’s warmer-than-usual weather.
Even fewer flu shots were administered this year, with 5 million patients receiving the shots compared with 5.4 million last year.
For the first fiscal quarter ended Nov. 30, Walgreens said total sales were $18.16 billion, up 4.7% from $17.34 billion in the year-earlier period, with comparable sales up 2.5%.
Wall Street was predicting slightly stronger sales of $18.26 billion.