CVS to close 900 locations over the next 3 years


Nicholas Eckhart |

Amanda Salazar, Editor-in-Chief

Drugstore and retail chain CVS Pharmacy Inc. announced that it will close 900 of its storefront locations within the next three years, according to a press release on Nov. 18.

“The company has been evaluating changes in population, consumer buying patterns and future health needs to ensure it has the right kinds of stores in the right locations for consumers and for the business,” CVS President and CEO Karen Lynch said.

“Our retail stores are fundamental to our strategy and who we are as a company. We remain focused on the competitive advantage provided by our presence in thousands of communities across the country, which complements our rapidly expanding digital presence.”

It will close about 300 stores each year out of its 10,000 U.S. locations beginning in spring 2022. The company has not yet released which locations it will be shutting down.

The remaining stores will be split into three smaller stores: regular retail and pharmacy stores like what CVS stores are currently; HealthHUBs that will sell a wider variety of medical products and offer more services, such as mental health therapy appointments, chronic conditions screenings and wellness features services including yoga; and MinuteClinics that offer primary care appointments, like urgent care clinics.

HealthHUBs have already been opening up around the country, and CVS announced that, by the end of the year, there will be 1,000 HealthHUB locations.

One reason for these changes is the company’s strategy shift to focus more on its insurance business. CVS acquired Aetna insurance in 2018. CVS also owns Caremark, a prescription benefit management subsidiary.

Since then, it has mandated that Aetna users who are on certain plans use CVS as their pharmacy, regardless of which pharmacy the customer used before. Aetna members also are able to use the MinuteClinics for a low or zero copay.

By focusing less on retail and more on healthcare and wellness, CVS plans to better connect its stores to its insurance and prescription management businesses.

Another reason for the change is due to how the COVID-19 pandemic changed customer behaviors. More people are shopping online, getting their prescriptions filled on apps, getting products through curbside pickup and making telehealth appointments than ever before.

Thus, having fewer physical stores doesn’t necessarily mean there is less access or business as customers and clients can continue to make purchases and receive services remotely.

Those aren’t the only changes coming to the big chain — Lynch announced a new leadership position: chief pharmacy officer. This position will act as a co-president to CVS’s retail business alongside the chief customer officer.

The two positions represent the front of the store and pharmacy. Prem Shah will be the chief pharmacy officer of CVS h and join Michelle Peluso, the current chief customer officer.