CVS, Walmart cut pharmacy hours as pharmacist shortage persists
CVS and Walmart are cutting pharmacy hours as both companies contend with an ongoing pharmacist shortage, according to a recent report.
CVS in March plans to cut or shift pharmacy hours at two-thirds of its locations nationwide, according to The Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, Walmart, the nation's largest retailer, is closing its pharmacies two hours early at most of its stores by March, the outlet reported.
The latest moves from CVS and Walmart underscore how pharmacies are still struggling to meet demand with their current workforce. More than a year ago, pharmacies started to become overwhelmed due to the rush of vaccines and virus tests coupled with a busy flu season, and in many cases had to temporarily close if staff weren't available.
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Staff shortages, however, persist even as companies boost pay and other benefits to incentive workers. This summer, the Journal reported that Walgreens offered signing bonuses of up to $75,000 in certain markets to recruit pharmacists.
CVS told FOX Business in a statement that it periodically reviews operating hours to make sure it's open "during peak customer demand."
"From time to time, this may result in a shift in pharmacy hours," CVS said. "By adjusting hours in select stores this spring, we ensure our pharmacy teams are available to serve patients when they’re most needed."
Meanwhile, Walmart told FOX Business that it is making this change "to not only enhance their work-life balance but also to maintain the best level of service for our customers."
The Arkansas-based company said it will be able to better assist customers by "positioning our teams in the hours where our customers say they want to visit our pharmacy."
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Walgreens told FOX Business that it had to adjust store or pharmacy hours at some locations in response to such challenges, but that it's been taking proactive steps in recent months to address staffing needs.
This includes hiring thousands of pharmacists, increasing pay and implementing measures to reduce workload.
"We have seen positive staffing trends for the past several months as we work to return more stores to normal operating hours," Walgreens said in a statement.
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CEO Roz Brewer told analysts in an earnings call earlier this month that the company added a net total of 600 pharmacists in the recently completed fiscal first quarter
Walgreens has also said it is opening processing centers to help fill some of the routine prescriptions that stores get from patients with chronic conditions. Company leaders expect these centers to eventually take over about half the prescription volume from their stores.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Read more of this story from FOX Business.