As the Covid-19 pandemic bore down last spring, America’s drugstore giants warned investors that the health crisis threatened their already tenuous turnarounds.
CVS Health Corp. and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. lost revenue as shoppers stayed home and skipped routine medical care. The companies spent hundreds of millions of dollars to roll out testing and vaccination programs.
This spring, something changed: Covid-19 turned into a moneymaker.
The nation’s largest retail pharmacy chains say consumers coming for vaccines are spending money in stores. Some vaccine recipients are switching their prescriptions to the chain where they got their shots. CVS, for instance, said it expects a 2% bump this year in so-called front-store sales, which don’t include prescriptions, at locations offering vaccines. The chains have launched a string of products, including at-home test kits, at-home antibody tests, and Covid-19 tests for people with no symptoms or exposure—for which companies generally collect out-of-pocket fees.
U.S. employers are paying for return-to-work programs, in which retail pharmacies charge thousands of dollars to vaccinate workers to facilitate staffing of offices and factories.