CVS ( CVS) said Tuesday that March same-store sales increased 7.8%, helped in part by stronger Easter-related sales because the holiday came nine days earlier than last year. Shares of the Woonsocket, R.I.-based company were rising 2.3% in morning trading, up 87 cents to $38.26 and within range of their 52-week high of $38.51 reached Feb. 12. Total sales in the five-week March period ended April 3 increased 9.5% to $2.65 billion, the company said. Pharmacy sales made up about 71% of total sales in March. By unit, same-store sales in the pharmacy division increased 9.1%, while front-end same-store sales rose 4.7%. CVS said March same-store sales benefited by 40 basis points because Easter fell on April 11 this year, compared with April 20 a year ago. On April 3, CVS operated 4,187 retail and specialty pharmacy stores. The company will buy 1,260 Eckerd drug stores, located mainly in the southern United States, in a definitive agreement with J.C. Penney ( JCP) announced April 5. The acquisition will make it the largest national drug store chain by store count.