This year's November had one additional Saturday and one fewer Thursday compared with November 2012. Despite these calendar shifts, Walgreens still saw comparable store sales climb for the month.
The company reported November sales of $6.1 billion, an increase of 4.1% compared to the same month last year. Total front-end sales increased 3.2%, while comparable store front-end sales increased 1.9%. Customer traffic in comparable stores increased 0.8% and basket size increased 1.1%.
The company said that a meaningful increase versus prior quarters in promotional investment contributed to the improvement in traffic and comparable store front-end sales for November and throughout the quarter.
Prescriptions filled at comparable stores increased by 1.4% in November and increased 3.7% on a calendar day-shift adjusted basis. Calendar day shifts negatively impacted prescriptions filled at comparable stores by 230 basis points.
Prescriptions filled at comparable stores were positively impacted by 40 basis points due to more flu shots versus last year but were negatively impacted by 70 basis points due to the slowest start to the flu season in six years, Walgreens reported. Flu shots administered at pharmacies and clinics season to date were more than 6.1 million versus nearly 4.6 million last year.
November pharmacy sales increased by 4.7%, while comparable store pharmacy sales increased 4% and increased by a calendar day-shift adjusted 6.3%.
Sales in comparable stores increased by 3.2% in November. Calendar day shifts negatively impacted total comparable sales by 150 basis points, while generic drug introductions in the last 12 months negatively impacted total comparable sales by 60 basis points.
Total sales for the first quarter of fiscal 2014, which ended Nov. 30, were $18.4 billion, up 6%. Comparable store sales for the first quarter of fiscal 2014 increased 5.5%, while front-end comparable store sales for the quarter increased 2.2%. Prescriptions filled at comparable stores increased 5.6% in the first quarter and comparable pharmacy sales increased 7.5%.
Walgreens opened 22 stores during November, including nine relocations, acquired a net total of 55 stores and closed one.