Kroger shoppers may notice changes, cuts to pharmacy

Kroger is making pharmacy and other changes nationwide amid a wider upheaval in the grocery industry. In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Kroger laid off 17 of its 300-plus pharmacists last month, terminated decades-long local floral supplier contracts, and even stopped giving free Kroger helium balloons to children.

Kroger is making pharmacy and other changes nationwide amid a wider upheaval in the grocery industry. In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Kroger laid off 17 of its 300-plus pharmacists last month, terminated decades-long local floral supplier contracts, and even stopped giving free Kroger helium balloons to children. The merger between CVS and Aetna, Albertsons' purchase of Rite Aid, and a pending deal between Walmart and Humana have put pressure on supermarket pharmacies, experts say. Pharmacy has been one of the most productive sections of the modern neighborhood supermarket, and most of Kroger's 2,782 stores have pharmacies. Kroger and other supermarket chains want to keep it that way, but the prescription drug business is rapidly changing as well. Kroger said it is making changes to keep its pharmacies competitive, pointing to mergers that have created larger pharmacy retailers and wholesalers and the growing power of PBMs. In-store pharmacy sales rose 3% to $10.75 billion and accounted for 8.8% of total sales at Kroger in 2017, not including revenue from Kroger Specialty Pharmacy. At the chain's Dallas-Fort Worth stores, Kroger in January imposed on assistant pharmacy managers forced cuts from 40 hours to 32 hours, and it eliminated 17 pharmacist positions in April. "Due to the ever-changing market, we have continued to review our pharmacy staffing model to ensure that we continue to remain viable and competitive in the market," a Kroger spokesperson said.