Drugstore chains are continuing to adjust their pharmacy hours to address staffing challenges and to optimize service during peak times.
About two-thirds of CVS locations will adjust their hours beginning in March, a spokesperson for the retailer told SN, after Walgreens previously said it adjusted its hours because of staffing challenges.
The Wall Street Journal on Friday first reported CVS’s plans, and also said that Walmart in March would begin closing most of its pharmacy locations at 7 p.m. instead of 9 p.m.
“Walmart has a strong and incredible pharmacy team, and we are making this change to not only enhance their work-life balance but also to maintain the best level of service for our customers,” a Walmart spokesperson said in a statement provided to SN. “This change is a direct result of feedback from our pharmacy associates and listening to our customers. By positioning our teams in the hours where our customers say they want to visit our pharmacy, we are better able to deliver excellent customer service and support our associates as they continue to serve their communities every day.”
A spokesperson for Rite Aid told SN that, like the rest of the industry, the retailer continues to cope with pharmacy labor shortages in some areas.
“When we have a staffing challenge, we work to ensure our customers’ prescription needs are met by opening the pharmacy on adjusted hours and directing customers appropriately,” the Rite Aid spokesperson said. “Our pharmacists continue to work hard to support our communities by providing vaccines, prescriptions and day-to-day guidance on whole health.”
The CVS spokesperson said the retailer periodically reviews operating hours to ensure it is open during peak customer demand.
“From time to time, this may result in a shift in pharmacy hours,” they said. “By adjusting hours in select stores this spring, we ensure our pharmacy teams are available to serve patients when they’re most needed.”
The spokesperson added that if a pharmacy is closed, patients can visit any open CVS pharmacy location for assistance with immediate prescription needs.
Last year, CVS said it was closing most of its pharmacies from 1:30-2 p.m. every day to ensure its pharmacists could take a lunch break.
Kroger and Albertsons, two of the largest supermarket pharmacy operators, could not be reach for comment.
Some reports indicated that what has been reported as a pharmacy shortage is actually just the reflection of a more challenging work environment for pharmacists amid demand for COVID vaccines, testing and other responsibilities.
A recent report on GoodRx Health suggested that many chain retail pharmacists may be taking jobs in independent pharmacies, hospitals, clinics and other nontraditional settings.
As a result of staffing challenges, some retail pharmacies, including Walgreens, last year began offering signing bouses and offering other incentives to attract and retain pharmacy staff, according to reports.