“We have to provide more of an experience than we’ve provided in the past to get customers to shop these stores,” Erik Keptner, chief merchandising and marketing officer at Rite Aid, said in an interview. “Many pharmacies, including ourselves, have traditionally been a bit of a maze to navigate.”
Rite Aid is allocating more space for beauty and personal care items, as well as vitamins and supplements, and less for stationary and household appliances. It will also carry CBD items.
Pharmacies have been squeezed by people filling fewer prescriptions in stores during the pandemic with some doctor’s offices closed, many elective procedures on hold and more shoppers switching to mail order.
Consumers are also limiting their trips to stores because of the coronavirus and buying in bulk more often. This has hurt drug stores, which carry a smaller variety of products and are designed to be fill-in stops for customers outside of their bigger weekly hauls at grocery stores or warehouse clubs.
“The pandemic has created some interesting shopper dynamics. No doubt some of the other channels of trade benefit more than the drug channel does,” said Keptner.
But he believes drug stores will have a stronger winter as more people come in for flu shots and is hopeful a future coronavirus vaccine will also draw customers.