Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Early flu sickens Walgreen’s sales

March 23, 2010

Check out what happens when the flu season happens early. WALGREEN/

Walgreen gets a hit to its sales in the quarter ended Feb. 28.

Usually, that quarter represents the peak of the flu season. But this year, the percent of flu-related visits to doctors offices fell to 1.8 percent in late February from a record 7.7 percent in late October, Walgreen said, citing CDC data. In 2009, that percentage was 6 percent.

So Walgreen got a boost from flu related sales in the first quarter, but saw pressure on second quarter sales as everyone else got healthy.

Same-store sales fell 0.2 percent in the quarter, Walgreen said. Front end same-store sales decreased 1.6 percent as people bought fewer flu-related items and also continued to be cautious about discretionary spending.

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