CVS, Walgreens Close Some Stores on Weekends

Staffing issues amid the rise in COVID-19 cases are to blame for the temporary closures.

January 18, 2022


ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Some CVS and Walgreens locations are shutting down on weekends due to severe staffing shortages, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The omicron variant is making staffing issues worse, as many workers are calling out due to illness, awaiting test results or caring for others with the virus. Before omicron’s spread, both drugstores were already short staffed and were cutting hours, raising pay and scrambling to hire tens of thousands more workers to address labor shortages.

Walgreens and CVS say that they are unable to list how many stores close on one or both weekend days, as the number changes each week and some closures are last minute. However, a spokesman for CVS told the New York Times that the “vast majority” of stores were operating with normal hours this past weekend. A spokeswoman for Walgreens told the Times that closures were at a “small percentage” of the company’s more than 9,000 stores, and in most cases, the affected stores would be open at least one weekend day.

Rite Aid announced last month that it is closing its stores an hour earlier each day and allowing walk-in vaccines for one hour a day because of staffing issues.

COVID-19 cases are up in most of the country, though some major cities including New York and Cleveland are seeing cases decline or level off. Sales and profits at CVS and Walgreens have been up because of the demand for testing and vaccines, with Walgreens reporting its highest quarterly sales increase in 20 years.

In October, Walgreen announced Walgreens Health, a new business segment enabled by investments in VillageMD and CareCentrix. Walgreens said it would reimagine “retail through expanded health and wellness offerings and mass personalization” and accelerate its brands and digital offerings. Walgreens also announced a $5.2 billion investment in VillageMD to speed the opening of at least 600 Village Medical at Walgreens primary care practices in more than 30 U.S. markets by 2025 and 1,000 by 2027, with more than half of those practices in medically underserved communities.

Walgreens could follow in the footsteps of rival CVS and abandon sales of cigarettes and other tobacco products. Walgreens stopped selling e-cigarettes in 2019 but continued to sell other tobacco products. CVS stopped selling cigarettes in 2014.