CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid to close nearly 1,500 stores

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The largest drug chains in the United States have a prescription for their struggling finances: Close stores. Rite Aid, the third-biggest U.S. chain behind CVS and Walgreens, filed for bankruptcy protection on Oct. 15, according to CNN, beset by mounting debt of more than $3 billion and a Department of Justice suit against the company in March, claiming it knowingly processed “unlawful prescriptions for controlled substances.” Rite Aid is expected to close 400-500 of its 2,100 locations.

Earlier this year, CVS began a process to close 900 stores through 2024, according to Forbes. According to that report, GlobalData analyst Neil Saunders shared with CNN too many of CVS stores have fallen into disrepair, with “bad lighting, depressing interiors, messy merchandising and a weak assortment of products. They are not destinations or places where people go out of anything other than necessity.” CVS has about 8,000 stores, plus another 2,000 co-locations in retail partners like Target.

Number one drug chain Walgreens, with its U.S. pharmacy segment, has about 9,000 stores generating $109.1 billion in sales. Walgreens will shutter 150 locations in a cost-saving move and reduce hours in another 1,100 stores. And the outlook is not bright, according got CEO Rosalind Brewer: “Our customer is feeling the strain of higher inflation and interest rates, lower SNAP benefits and tax refunds, and an uncertain economic outlook.”

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores reports that 90% of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy. Losing upwards of 1,500 chain store locations out of 39,000 will probably not change that statistic.

Considering all three of these drug chains also have substantial photo programs, this could be a cause for concern for the industry.