Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a account? Log In

Pharmacy’s Healthcare Pivot

Bracha Arnold
June 28, 2022
Pharmacy’s Healthcare Pivot

As online and brick-and-mortar giants like Amazon, Walmart, and Target continue to expand their health and wellness offerings, the traditional pharmacy sector has had to adapt. We took a look at three of the biggest players in the market – CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid – to see how they are reinventing themselves in an increasingly competitive space. 

CVS and Walgreens Adapting to New Challenges

Foot traffic to CVS and Walgreens increased dramatically over the pandemic as the brands became a prime destination for vaccines and COVID tests. However, as most who choose to vaccinate have already done so, and as inflation continues, foot traffic has been tapering off. Shoppers have been both consolidating their errands and “trading down,” a trend that could be  impacting visits. 

Pharmacy leaders have been adapting to the changes in the traditional pharmacy space – expanding their omnichannel options, strengthening loyalty programs, and perhaps most crucially, establishing themselves as healthcare providers as well. 

CVS Goes Digital

When the pandemic forced a lot of medicine to go online, CVS was already ahead of the curve. In 2018, the company bought insurer Aetna and has been establishing its MinuteClinics ever since. More recently, in May 2022, the company launched an online primary-care program called CVS Health Virtual Primary Care. According to the company’s website, “CVS Health Virtual Primary Care will give members access to primary care, on-demand care, chronic condition management, and mental health services virtually, with the option of being seen in-person when needed at an in-network provider, including MinuteClinic.” As CVS invests in its digital channels, the company has been optimizing its store fleets, with plans to close roughly 900 of its 10,000 stores by 2023. 

Digging deeper into the numbers, visits were up compared to three years ago, which means that, despite the store closures already under way, customers are still visiting CVS in higher volumes than before the pandemic. Foot traffic has been trending downward as compared to one year ago, but with visits up year-over-three-year (Yo3Y), the year-over-year (YoY) drop is likely due to patterns normalizing following a COVID-induced surge in visits to pharmacies. 

Walgreens Focusing on Optimization 

Walgreens, too, has been expanding out its healthcare services since before the pandemic, but the past two years have accelerated the pace. In October 2021, the company announced a “$5.2 billion investment [to] accelerate the opening of at least 600 Village Medical at Walgreens primary care practices in more than 30 U.S. markets by 2025 and 1,000 by 2027.” Walgreens also built the Walgreens Find Care, an online platform that connects patients with digital health service providers. 

Like CVS, Walgreens is seeing Yo3Y strength while YoY visits are down slightly – May 2022 visits were up 7.9% relative to 2019 but down 5.6% relative to 2021. This means that, like CVS, Walgreens is in a stronger position than it was pre-pandemic, even as COVID wanes.   

Rite Aid Rightsizing Effectively

Rite Aid began an aggressive consolidation of its store fleet in 2017, when competitor Walgreens purchased almost 2,000 Rite Aid stores. It spent the last few years focusing on its best-performing stores and expanding its other healthcare offerings. Looking at the foot traffic, visits per venue are relatively strong, and despite the fact that Yo3Y foot traffic is down, visits per venue are significantly elevated. These elevated visits may show that the plan to focus on higher-performing stores is working, as visits per venue is one of the more important and telling metrics used to gauge .

April 2022 saw 12.6% more visits per venue than the chain had seen three years prior, and although foot traffic was down by 26.5%, this is likely a result of the store closures that the company has been implementing rather than a depression in visitors. 

Year over year visits were strong in the new year, and while the brand experienced a downturn in foot traffic from March 2022 onwards, it’s been narrowing its visit gap each month since. As the company continues to make inroads into healthcare, plan to see foot traffic patterns continue to trend upwards. 

All three brands are adapting with the challenges that they face as customer needs evolve and are investing in new ways to provide innovative services to their communities. 

Visit for more data-driven insights. 

Get 3 brand & industry
breakdowns every week

Subscribe to the newsletter

Great! Prepare your inbox for data-driven insights...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Get a Demo

Please enter your first name
Please enter your last name
Please provide a valid email
Please enter your email
Please enter company name

Thanks for reaching out!

One of our experts will be in touch soon

Try Free
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
How Will Primark’s US Expansion Impact Target?
All Eyes on Eyewear
Northwestern U.S. Grocery Dive
Return of the Lunch: Salad Chains Are Thriving
Retail Media Networks – Off the Beaten Track
Bet Your Bottom Dollar: Discount and Dollar Stores Drive Foot Traffic
Ulta & Lululemon: Discretionary Spending On The Up
The Score After Q1: Sporting Goods Chains
Who Uses NYC Airports: Biting Into The Big Apple’s Main Transport Hubs
Off Price: Strength in The Face of Retail Challenges
Visits Improve for Home Improvement
Walmart, Target & Wholesalers in Q1 2023 – The Return of Mission-Driven Shopping?
Department Store Roundup: Q1 2023 Office Index: April 2023 Recap Mall Index, April 2023 – A Rebound on the Horizon?
How Will Bed Bath & Beyond’s Bankruptcy Impact the Retail Space?
Buffet Restaurants: Filling Up on Foot Traffic
Thrift Stores: Vintage Visits Drive New Age in Apparel
The Windy City: A Hub of Post-Pandemic Opportunity
Diving into Dining Traffic - Q1 2023
Bring On The Joe
A Dollar (or more) For Your Thoughts: Five Below and pOpshelf
Dining Out With The Cheesecake Factory
Retail Foot Traffic Recap – March 2023
Digging Into 2023: McDonald’s and Chipotle Update Office Index: March 2023 Recap
How Did Key Retail Categories Perform in Q1 2023?
Northeastern USA Grocery Dive
Movie Theaters Storylines for 2023
Ollie's Bargain Outlet: Discounters are Evolving
Leveraging Brick-and-Mortar Retail in 2023
America’s Evolving Work Patterns: A Deep-Dive into New York and Chicago Mall Index March 2023
Tuning Into Record Stores
Five Franchises To Watch in 2023
What’s Next For Domestic Tourism?
It’s Showtime! Movie Theaters in the Spotlight
5 Limited Time Offers (LTOs) Driving Restaurant Traffic
Department Store Deep-Dive: Belk
Regional Grocery Chains Staying Ahead of the Competition
Five Chains that Rightsized for Success
Unlocking the Potential of Offline Retail Media Networks
Dining Out With Darden
What’s in Store for Self-Storage?
Nike & lululemon Update: Strong Performance Amid Expansion Plans
Many Ways to Win: Midwest Grocery Deep Dive
Retail, Reinvented: The Rise of the Pop-Up Shop
Navigating a New Normal in Business Travel & Commutes Office Index: February 2023 Recap
Retail Categories Staying Strong in Volatile Environment
Ulta Beauty: Poised for Success into 2023 Mall Index February 2023: Reasons for Continued Optimism
Catching Up With DICK’s & Hibbett
The Miami-Dade Arena: An Advertising Slam Dunk
Car Washes Revving Up Visits
Tuesday Morning and Sunrises in Home Furnishing
Dining & Valentine’s Day Recap
2023: The Year of the Discount Store
Aldi’s Success Highlights Growing Demand for Value Groceries
5 Retail & Service Categories Holding onto Pandemic Gains in 2023
Visitor Insights from Super Bowl 2023
2023 First Look: Home Improvement Update
How Are Target, Walmart, and Wholesale Clubs Faring in 2023?
Department Store Deep-Dive: Nordstrom
Off-Price: Taking Off in Uncertain Times
Checking in On Middle-Class Hubs
Who Attends the Super Bowl? Office Index: January 2023 Recap
Focusing On Fitness: Q4 and January Recap Mall Index: January 2023 – Returning Mall Normalcy?
Location Intelligence Insights Into Concert Attendance
Winning Dining Strategies for 2023
In-N-Out Burger: What to Expect as the Brand Moves East
Location Intelligence Breakdown: Coffee Caps-Off 2022
Digitally Native Brands Lean Into Brick & Mortar
Washington, D.C. Population Changes & Migration Trends
A Location Intelligence Perspective on Macy’s Rightsizing
Amazon-Powered Shopping: The Future of Brick-and-Mortar Grocery?
Cold Weather, Hot Visits: Diving into Winter Resorts
Wawa and 7-Eleven: Leaning Into the “Slurpee Effect”
2022 and Beyond: Catching Up With McDonald’s & Chipotle
Let’s Have Some Fun! Going Out Is In’s Q4 2022 Quarterly Index Adds Industry Executives to Leadership Team To Drive Company's Next Phase of Growth
5 Emerging Retail Formats: 2023’s Brick-and-Mortar Evolution
Grocery Update: Zooming in on the Lone Star State
2022 Office Recap: The Year of the TGIF Work Week
What Lies Ahead for Brick-and-Mortar Luxury in 2023 Mall Indexes: December 2022 Recap
Looking Back on 2022’s Holiday Shopping Season
Post-Pandemic Migration Trends in New York
Top Retailers for 2023
The Live Sports Advertising Opportunity
Domestic Migration to the Mountain States: Small Shifts with Big Implications
New Year, New Food: 5 Dining Trends For 2023
This is Why Shop-in-Shops Are Everywhere
Super Saturday 2022 Recap
The San Francisco Shift
Grocery Year-End Update: Publix in the Spotlight