Total front-end sales increased 2.5% compared with the same month in 2011, while comparable store front-end sales increased 1.2%. Customer traffic in comparable stores decreased 1% while basket size increased 2.2%.
“We continued to see growth in our front-end business, and with Easter falling on April 8 this year we anticipate that much of our Easter sales will be reflected in our April results,” said Walgreens Executive Vice President and CFO Wade Miquelon. “In addition, our new advertising circular strategy has helped drive profitable sales.”
Walgreens launched its new weekly ad circular, with additional online savings, in mid-February.
Prescriptions filled at comparable stores decreased 11.4% in March. Calendar day shifts in March, which had one additional Friday and Saturday, and one fewer Tuesday and Wednesday compared with March 2011, negatively impacted prescriptions filled in comparable stores by 2.1 percentage points. Lower incidence of flu negatively impacted comparable store prescriptions filled by 0.7 percentage point. The negative impact on comparable store prescriptions filled due to no longer being part of the Express Scripts Inc. pharmacy network was 10.7 percentage points. Prescriptions processed by Express Scripts comprised 12.6% of Walgreens prescriptions in March 2011.
March pharmacy sales decreased 8.4%, while comparable store pharmacy sales decreased 11.1%. Calendar day shifts negatively impacted pharmacy sales in comparable stores by 2.1 percentage points. Comparable store pharmacy sales also were negatively impacted by 2.5 percentage points due to generic drug introductions in the last 12 months, by 0.9 percentage point due to lower incidence of cough, cold and flu and by 10.6 percentage points due to no longer being part of the Express Scripts network. Pharmacy sales accounted for 63.5% of total sales for the month.
Sales in comparable stores decreased by 6.8%. The effect of calendar day shifts negatively impacted total comparable sales by 1.3 percentage points. The company will report combined comparable store sales for March and April with its April sales results.
Calendar year-to-date sales were $17.68 billion, a decrease of 1.8% from $17.99 billion in 2011.
Fiscal 2012 year-to-date sales for the first seven months were $42.83 billion, up 1.6% from $42.14 billion in fiscal 2011.
Walgreens opened eight stores during March, including one relocation.
As of March 31, Walgreens operates 8,300 locations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam. That includes 7,847 drugstores, 150 more than a year ago, including 19 stores acquired over the last 12 months.