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The alarming reason people aren't going to drug stores as often

October 14, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS - MARCH 23: Walgreens display social distancing guidelines at the entrance of the store on March 23, 2020 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker ordered all non-essential businesses to close by noon on March 24 in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19. Grocery stores and pharmacies will remain open, and restaurants will still be able to sell food for take-out service. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Drug stores like Walgreens, Rite Aid and CVS have remained open throughout the pandemic for shoppers looking to fill prescriptions and stock up on essential items.

New York (CNN Business)Drug stores like Walgreens, Rite Aid and CVS have remained open throughout the pandemic for shoppers looking to fill prescriptions and stock up on essential items.

People have been 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.

This has also choked off impulse purchases and unplanned items that customers grab when they visit stores to pick up their prescriptions.

That's squeezing drug store chains like Walgreens (WBA), which reports earnings Thursday, and CVS (CVS).

Visits to drug stores fell around 12. 8% from the prior year for the four weeks ending on October 4, according to market research firm IRI.

It's not just the trend of people filling fewer prescriptions that's hurting drug stores.

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.

For the 31 weeks ending on October 3, sales at drug stores have inched up 2. 5% from the same stretch last year, while they have increased 19. 9% at grocery stores, according to Nielsen.

Wall Street has taken notice of drug stores' performance compared to their competitors, driving down shares of CVS (CVS), Walgreens (WBA) and Rite Aid (RAD), the three largest US drug store chains, more than 20% this year.

Rite Aid and CVS have partnered with Instacart to offer delivery on prescriptions and other items, while Walgreens has teamed up with DoorDash and Postmates.

Walgreens struck a partnership with Kroger for mini "Kroger Express" stores that offer fresh groceries within around 50 Walgreens locations.

Walgreens is planning on opening up to 700 full-service medical clinics in partnership with VillageMD located next to its stores within the next five years.

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