Rite Aid is closing 154 stores, including two in Delaware. (Rite Aid photo)

Rite Aid to close 2 Del. stores; pharmacy walkout looms

Ken MammarellaBusiness, Headlines

Rite Aid is closing 154 stores, including two in Delaware. (Rite Aid photo)

Rite Aid is closing 154 stores, including two in Delaware. (Rite Aid photo)

Downbeat stories are developing about all three of America’s biggest drugstores chains.

Rite Aid announced Sunday that it’s filing for bankruptcy and followed up by saying it will close 154 locations, including stores in Chestnut Hill Plaza near Newark and at 3209 Kirkwood Highway, near Prices Corner.

Twelve CVS locations in the Kansas City area closed in September “because the pharmacists in charge staged an organized walkout,” Supermarket News reported

“Pharmacy staff at some Walgreens stores walked out Oct. 9, “citing harsh working conditions that make it difficult to safely fill prescriptions,” CNN reported.

And national and specialized media are reporting plans for a broadened walkout of pharmacy workers, possibly Oct. 30 and Nov. 1.

The last few years have been tough for drugstores. Demand for medicines and shots grew, while staffing did not.

One easily observed casualty: shorter pharmacy hours.

Another: Hundreds of fewer drugstores, CNN reported.

Rite Aid’s bankruptcy

Rite Aid on Sunday announced the Chapter 11 bankruptcy in New Jersey, also saying it planned to sell its Elixir Solutions business to MedImpact Healthcare Systems.

The announcement said thats the company “will continue assessing its footprint and close additional underperforming stores.”

The Chestnut Plaza location has competition across the street from Walgreens and CVS.

The Kirkwood Highway store has very local competition from the Prices Corner Pharmacy and pharmacies in Acme, Walmart and Walgreens.

Rite Aid’s statement about the closures: “Like all retail businesses, we regularly review each of our locations to ensure we are meeting the needs of our customers, communities and overall business. A decision to close a store is one we take very seriously and is based on a variety of factors including business strategy, lease and rent considerations, local business conditions and viability, and store performance. For our customers, we make every effort to ensure they have access to health services, whether at another Rite Aid or other nearby pharmacy, and we work to seamlessly transfer their prescriptions so there is no disruption of services. We will also strive to transfer associates to other Rite Aid locations where possible. We will continue to keep our website updated with information about which stores are open.”

Before the announcement of the 154 closures, Rite Aid had more than 2,300 stores in 17 states, including 36 in Delaware. Hundreds of more Rite Aid locations are likely to close, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Nationwide pharmacy walkout?

“Retail pharmacy staff are concerned that companies like Walgreens and CVS are placing unreasonable demands on employees, without providing enough staffing or resources for them to safely and responsibly execute tasks such as filling prescriptions,” CNBC reported.

Definitive news about the earlier walkouts and what could be a nationwide walkout among these three chains — and others — in a few weeks is hard to determine, because workers fear reprisals and corporate executives are emphasizing the positive. Some reports said planning occurred on Reddit.

When asked if Walgreens has so far curtailed any services or hours in Delaware because of a walkout, or possible walkout, a representative for the company responded: “Can’t speculate about the possibility of a walkout, but will share that the last few years have required an unprecedented effort from our team members, and we share their pride in this work — while recognizing it has been a very challenging time. We understand the immense pressures felt across the U.S. in retail pharmacy right now and are committed to ensuring that our entire pharmacy team has the support and resources necessary to continue to provide the best care to our patients while taking care of their own wellbeing.”

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