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COVID-19

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

Erika Beras Aug 5, 2020
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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
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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.

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