COVID-19

Pharmacies are playing a bigger role in local retail during the pandemic

Erika Beras Aug 5, 2020
Heard on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY
About 23 1/2 million Americans don’t live that close to grocery stores, but most people do live within 5 miles of a Walgreens or CVS. Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

Pharmacies are playing a bigger role in local retail during the pandemic

Erika Beras Aug 5, 2020
Heard on:
About 23 1/2 million Americans don’t live that close to grocery stores, but most people do live within 5 miles of a Walgreens or CVS. Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

The role of the pharmacy store, especially in areas where there aren’t a lot of other retail outlets, is changing during the pandemic. Pharmacies are rarely just pharmacies these days. They’re one-stop shops, convenient for consumers who want to consolidate their shopping trips.

And that approach appears to be going well — CVS Health beat analysts’ expectations for earnings and revenue in the most recent fiscal quarter.

During stay-at-home orders, lots of people are using pharmacists to get medical information, said Mintel analyst Gabrielle Lieberman.

“They are really the only people that we’ve maybe had a chance to interact with from that health care standpoint,” Lieberman said.

And, drugstores sell more than pharmaceuticals. Much of the retail space is devoted to cosmetics, toys and food.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, people are more comfortable going to a nearby pharmacy that’s smaller and [has] fewer people in it than a giant supercenter or a giant grocery store,” said Erik Gordon, professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

Also, people may not want to take public transportation to go to the grocery store.

“Not only is it something you have to spend a lot of time to get to, but it’s dangerous to do that,” said Jeff Galak, professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business.

For lots of people, pharmacies are the only nearby retail option: About 23.5 million Americans don’t live that close to grocery stores, but most people do live within 5 miles of a Walgreens or CVS.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.  

Need some Econ 101?

Our new Marketplace Crash Course is here to help. Sign-up for free, learn at your own pace.