Rite Aid Corp. announced a boost in January sales despite a drop in front-end, same-store sales blamed on the less-severe flu season.
The company said Thursday in a news release that same-store sales for the four-week period ending Jan. 25 increased 1.8 percent compared to the same 2013 period, including a 3.2 percent rise in pharmacy same-store sales.
That 3.2 percent increase came even as prescription count decreased 2.2 percent from the prior-year period. The company reported that 2.4 percent of the prescription count dropped is attributable to a decrease in flu-related prescriptions and flu shots.
Fewer sales of flu medication is partly responsible for the 1.8 percent drop in front-end, same-store sales as well. The company said the drop is attributable to a decrease in sales of flu-related, over-the-counter products.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu cases are down this year compared to last year in the country. The flu-related hospitalization rate was at 13.8 hospitalizations per 100,000 people for the second week of 2014. At that time last year, the overall hospitalization rate was 23.6 per 100,000 people, and the 2012-13 flu season ended with a hospitalization rate of 43.8 hospitalizations per 100,000 people.
Total drugstore sales for the four-week period increased 1.5 percent to $1.943 billion, according to the company, compared to $1.914 billion for the same four-week span in 2013.
Rite Aid Corp., based in East Pennsboro Township, operates 4,588 stores. That’s down less than 1 percent from the same four-week period last year when it operated 4,626.
UGI Corp. announced Thursday it is paying out a quarterly dividend and also offering a share repurchase program.
The Valley Forge-based company said it will pay a $0.2825 dividend per share April 1 to shareholders of record as of March 14.
In addition, the company’s board of directors authorized a share repurchase program of up to 10 million shares of the company’s common stock.
UGI Corp., the parent company of UGI Utilities Inc. in Berks County, will announce its fiscal year first-quarter earnings Tuesday. It trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol UGI.