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More than 15% of Boots’ sales online after 60% ecommerce growth during the pandemic

Deliveroo is now moving beyond groceries to deliver health and wellbeing products and stationery. Image courtesy of Deliveroo/Boots

More than 15% of Boots’ sales were online in the second quarter of its financial year. That’s up from 9% at the same time two years earlier – before the pandemic. Boots’ online sales grew by 60% over the same period.

Boots’ parent company Walgreen Boots Alliance today reported the health and beauty retailer’s UK sales grew by 15.2% in the second quarter, to February 28 2022, compared to the previous year. Like-for-like retail sales were 22% higher than a year earlier. The health and beauty retailer gained market share across all categories, led by beauty, while footfall improved – although still remaining below pre-pandemic levels as restrictions related to Omicron were still in place.

Boots, ranked Elite in RXUK Top500 research, has developed its multichannel and ecommerce business during the course of the pandemic, through initiatives including fast deliveries via Deliveroo (pictured).

More recently, it has launched a Price Advantage scheme to give better prices to members of Boots’ Advantage Card scheme.

WBA is currently going through a strategic review of the Boots business, at a time when its focus is moving further towards US healthcare. It is widely expected that the retailer will be sold.

The update comes as Walgreens Boots Alliance reports second quarter sales from continuing operations of $33.8bn (£25.7bn), 3% up on the same time last year. That includes sales of $5.6bn (£4.3bn) (+2.6%) in its international business, which includes Boots. At the same time, operating income from continuing operations rose to $1.2bn (£0.9bn) from $832m (£532.6m) a year earlier.

In the first six months of the year, sales from continuing operations came in at $67.7bn (£51.5bn) – up by 5.4% on the same period last year. Operating income from continuing operations was $2.5bn (£1.9bn), up from $298m (£226.6m) a year earlier.

WBA chief executive Rosaline Brewer says: “We continue to make important strides along our strategic priorities, building a consumer-centre, technology-enabled healthcare enterprise at the centre of local communities.” She adds: “The strategic review of our Boots business is progressing and our transformational actions are accelerating sustainable value creation.”

Commenting on today’s figures, Lia Neophytou, senior consumer analyst at data and analytics company GlobalData, says: “Boots’ potential buyers will be pleased by the health & beauty specialist’s navigation of the Omicron variant having reported retail sales growth of 22%. Hyper-health consciousness among consumers continues to benefit the retailer which reported stronger demand for pharmacy services (+3.6%), and a 60% increase in digital sales compared to Q2 2019/20 (pre-COVID), although further improvements to its online proposition are required to properly offset the decline in footfall which is still evident over two years into the pandemic.”

Neophytou adds: “The recent launch of its Price Advantage scheme nationwide offering advantage card members lower prices on certain items will have improved Boots’ appeal among price-conscious consumers, but it must quickly launch this online to ensure consistency and encourage spend.”

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