UPDATE 1-Longs Drug April same-store sales hurt by Easter shift

jueves 8 de mayo de 2008 22:44 CEST
 

(Recasts; adds details, share movement)

May 8 (Reuters) - Longs Drug Stores Corp LDG.N posted a 1.5 percent drop in April sales at stores open at least a year, hurt by the shift of Easter to March.

The drugstore chain's same-store sales of "front-end" goods, such as shampoo and candy, fell 2.4 percent in April due to the early Easter.

Easter fell on March 23 this year compared with April 8 last year, making it the earliest Easter since 1913, according to the National Retail Federation.

Longs, whose stores fill prescriptions and sell health and beauty aids, convenience foods and greeting cards, said pharmacy same-store sales fell 0.5 percent.

Longs Drug Stores, like its larger rivals Walgreen Co WAG.N, CVS Caremark (CVS.N: Cotización) and Rite Aid (RAD.N: Cotización), has lately been plagued by sluggish holiday sales and cheap generic drugs cutting into sales.

The switch of the prescription allergy medicine Zyrtec to over-the-counter status and a mild conclusion to the cold and flu season versus last year also hurt pharmacy same-store sales, the company said in a statement.

Total retail drug store sales rose 0.4 percent to $366 million for the month, while 2.9 percent to $1.22 billion for the thirteen-week period ended May 1.

Shares of the company were down 70 cents at $43 in trading after the bell. They had closed at $43.70 Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Dilipp S. Nag in Bangalore; Editing by Himani Sarkar)