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Walgreen March Sales Jump

Same-store sales climb 8%.
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Drugstore operator



reported an 8% rise in March same-store sales, helped by a big jump in pharmacy sales.

The Deerfield, Ill.-based company said Tuesday that total March sales rose 13% over a year earlier to $4.61 billion.

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Same-store pharmacy sales, representing sales at stores open at least a year, rose 8.8%. Total March pharmacy sales increased 13% and accounted for 66.6% of the retailer's total sales for the month.

Same-store front-end sales increased 6.5% during March.

The company said calendar shifts cut into pharmacy comp sales by 1.4 percentage points. Patients fill more prescriptions on weekdays than on weekends, Walgreen said, and this year's March had one fewer Wednesday and one additional Saturday compared with March 2006.

Last week, Walgreen posted a 25% jump in second-quarter earnings, topping Wall Street's estimates.

Shares recently were trading up 46 cents, or 1%, to $46.27.