Walgreens has more stores worldwide. CVS fills more prescriptions. Both are trying to compete as the pharmacy business changes.

Abdel Jimenez, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Business News

Walgreens said this week it is considering a deal to take the Deerfield-based company private. A day later, CVS reported revenue of $65 billion, up more than 36% from the same period a year prior. The fight is fierce as both drugstores try to gain a leg up in the industry by offering more health services and specialty products like cosmetics to attract customers.

Walgreens and CVS are taking different approaches to changes in consumer shopping behavior and the pharmacy business.

Here's how they stack up:

-- Walgreens fills fewer prescriptions

CVS Health operates 9,900 traditional retail locations and has another 1,100 stores that include MinuteClinics, its primary care clinics. The company is closing 22 underperforming stores early next year, according to CVS's third-quarter earnings report. That's on top of the 46 stores closings CVS announced earlier this year.

During its third quarter, CVS said it filled more than 352 million prescriptions.


Walgreens, on the other hand, plans to close 200 stores beginning this fall. It had more than 9,200 stores in the U.S. as of Aug. 31. Worldwide, the chain has 18,750 locations.

Walgreens filled 283 million prescriptions, which included immunizations, in U.S. locations during its fiscal fourth quarter.

-- Both have gone through mergers and acquisitions

Walgreen spent several years trying to acquire Rite Aid, a smaller competitor, but faced opposition from federal regulators. In 2017, Walgreens set that acquisition attempt aside and instead acquired about 2,000 of Rite Aid's stores. CVS acquired Aetna, the nation's third-largest health insurer in terms of membership, for about $69 billion nearly a year ago.


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