SOURCE: Kalorama Information

Kalorama Information

September 28, 2009 16:59 ET

Drug Store Chains Use Flu Shots to Boost Store Traffic

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - September 28, 2009) - Americans may be as likely to get a flu shot at one of the nation's largest pharmacy chains as in a doctor's office or clinic. That should not be surprising, according to healthcare market research publisher Kalorama Information. The nation's major drugstores have been using flu shot programs to earn revenue and to draw customers in the store to make other purchases, an indirect revenue strategy that Kalorama Information predicted in its reports on the retail clinic phenomenon in recent years.

Walgreen's pharmacies began delivering flu shots on September 1st of this year and the chain has already exceeded its 2008 total of 1.2 million shots, according to reports in other media outlets. CVS pharmacies with a MinuteClinic in the store are also offering the vaccine with no appointment necessary, and Rite Aid has offered walk-in flu shots at some locations without an appointment and at other locations if customers call first. The costs of the shots range from $18 to $25.

"Using medical services to get shoppers into the stores is a tactic that we've noticed in the drugstore industry recently," said Bruce Carlson, Publisher of Kalorama Information. "But with all the attention on the flu right now, retailers have really seized this opportunity."

Kalorama Information has observed in recent years how thousands of retail stores have built clinics within the store environment to service low-cost medical needs. Drugstores are utilizing these clinics to administer the vaccines where they can, but where there is no retail clinic, they are operating out of temporary clinics set up in the pharmacy area of the stores. According to Kalorama Information, it's no surprise why retailers would be in such a rush to take the place of government clinics and physician offices in administering flu vaccines.

"The stores earn revenue off the flu shots, but that is only part of the business model," Carlson said. "The real benefit comes from getting customers in the door where they can be expected to purchase over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, health and beauty aids, and other products."

In its report "Retail Clinics and In-Store Healthcare 2009: Bright Spot in the Current Economy?" Kalorama Information indicated that U.S. drug stores saw $132 million of additional indirect revenue in stores that had a retail clinic in 2008, a number that should grow with increasing utilization of medical services in retail stores. The report details statistics on retail clinic stores, major companies in the industry and growth forecasts. For more information, please see:

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