As reported by Dan Alexander on a couple of days ago, ShopRite has announced that it is shuttering 23 pharmacies in New Jersey. They have also made it clear that this will not affect their vaccination program so you don’t have to worry if you had an appointment to receive your COVID-19 vaccine there.

A list of specific stores has not been made available yet, but they attribute the closings to “slow sales.” I think it’s obvious why sales were slow enough to cause these pharmacies to cease operations. First of all, I never got on the getting-my-medication-at-a-supermarket bandwagon. And I don’t know many people who did.

The idea in its infancy seemed like a smart one. In theory, people make their weekly stop at the grocery store anyway, so while they are there, they can pick up their prescriptions. But then the large pharmacies started to compete with big grocery stores in the grocery space. You can find practically any dry goods you need at a pharmacy, and even some frozen foods and refrigerated milk and dairy products.

So when the supermarket started to get into the prescription business, the prescription guys got into the grocery business. And the prescription guys won—especially once coronavirus hit. Many people avoided the big supermarket altogether, where it seemed that germs lurked everywhere and it seemed that your shopping trips (and thus your exposure time) would be much longer.

No one needs to run into a big supermarket for three or four items anymore when you can get them from the local CVS, often even cheaper.

So while grocery store pharmacies were already teetering, once the pandemic hit they finally crashed. At the announcement that Amazon would begin to dabble in the prescription drug business, all hope was lost.

As we’ve all come to learn, the pandemic has created a “new normal” which has proven to be bad news for many in the retail sector. As far as I know, ShopRite is the first to announce closings of their supermarkets’ pharmacies in New Jersey, but sadly, I think you can expect others to do the same.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi's own.

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