Close this search box.

Boots online sales at double pre-Covid levels – while fewer people visit its shops

Boots is seeing fewer in-store visits but more online shops. Image courtesy of Boots

Boots online sales were almost double the level they were before Covid-19 in the first quarter of its financial year, the retailer’s parent company said this week. However, fewer people are visiting its stores than did before the pandemic.

Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) first quarter figures, reported this week, show that Boots’ like-for-like retail sales were 16.3% ahead of the the same time last year. Online, it says, led the business with digital sales almost doubling in the first quarter compared to the same time pre-Covid. The number of people coming to stores remains below pre-Covid levels, although footfall did improve during the first quarter. Its comparable pharmacy sales were 8.8% ahead of last time.

WBA says Boots, an Elite retailer in RXUK Top500 research, has been developing its healthcare services both online and in-store. It has also opened 27 new beauty halls in regional sites. 

The update came as WBA reported sales from continuing operations of $33.9bn (£25bn), in the first quarter of its financial year, to November 30 2021. That’s 7.8% up on the same time last year. First quarter operating income rose to $1.3bn (£0.96bn)  from a loss of $535m (£394.96m) a year earlier and the company has raised profit expectations for the full year. 

Its international business, which includes Boots, grew sales by 35.8% to $5.8bn (£4.3bn), as it opened a new wholesale joint venture in Germany and also benefited from factors including the “ongoing recovery in the UK market, following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions in July”. Operating income – a measure of profitability – grew by 39.8% to $54m (£39.9m). 

WBA has also launched a new Walgreens Health business that aims to use technology to guide customers through a personalised omnichannel experience. It owns majority stakes in US healthcare service providers VillageMD and Shields. 

WBA chief executive Rosalind Brewer says: “First quarter results exceeded our expectations, with a very encouraging performance across all our business segments. I am particularly excited about the progress we’re making in building out Walgreens Health. Our majority investments in VillageMD and Shields closed during the quarter, and we’re rolling out VillageMD primary care co-locations and Walgreens Health Corners at pace. The strong start to the fiscal year reinforces our confidence in the future, and as a result, we are raising our guidance for the full year and increasing investments in our people. Looking ahead, we are well positioned for sustainable, long-term value creation.”

Read More

Register for Newsletter

Group 4 Copy 3Created with Sketch.

Receive 3 newsletters per week

Group 3Created with Sketch.

Gain access to all Top500 research

Group 4Created with Sketch.

Personalise your experience on