Walgreens plans to close about 600 drugstores as it completes a $4.38 billion deal to buy nearly 2,000 from rival Rite Aid. Company spokesman Michael Polzin said Wednesday that most of the closings will be Rite Aid stores, and the vast majority will be within a mile of another store in the Walgreens network. The store closings will start next spring and be completed over 18 months. Walgreens operates more than 13,200 stores worldwide.
Total Retail's Take: Store closures were part of the deal when the Walgreens-Rite Aid deal finally got FTC approval after nearly two years in the making. Even with this most recent round of closings announced, Walgreens will remain the largest U.S. pharmacy chain by number of stores, slightly edging out its top competitor, CVS. Pharmacy represents a competitive retail category, and that figures to intensify as Amazon.com mulls plans to enter the space. With increased competition on the horizon — and lower generic drug prices negatively impacting sales — Walgreens is hopeful that the acquisition of Rite Aid will solidify its spot at the top of the category through an even greater brick-and-mortar presence.