An apparent shortage of pharmacists is forcing CVS and Walmart to reduce the hours of its pharmacies, as they close earlier in thousands of locations.
Beginning in March, both retailers will either cut or shift the hours that their pharmacies operate in response to staffing shortages and waning consumer demand as the height of the COVID-19 pandemic recedes. The Wall Street Journal first reported the news.
Walmart, which has pharmacies in most of its 4,600 US locations, will close them two hours earlier, at 7 pm. CVS will shift or cut hours at about 6,000 US pharmacies.
For CVS, adjusting its hours is an attempt to ensure its "pharmacy teams are available to serve patients when they're most needed," the company said in a statement to CNN. The changes are part of its "regular course of business," it added, so its hours meet customer demand.
In a statement to CNN, Walmart said the new hours are the result of "direct feedback" from its pharmacy employees and customers.
"Walmart has a strong and incredible pharmacy team, and we are making this change to not only enhance their work-life balance but also to maintain the best level of service for our customers," a Walmart spokesperson said. "By positioning our teams in the hours where our customers say they want to visit our pharmacy, we are better able to deliver excellent customer service."
Walgreens announced last year that it was reducing hours at some of its pharmacies because of staffing shortages.
On Friday, the company told CNN that it has "at times had to adjust store or pharmacy hours at some of our locations as we work to balance staffing and resources in the market to best meet our patient and customer demand." A Walgreens spokesperson added that it has seen "positive staffing trends for the past several months as we work to return more stores to normal operating hours."
Pharmacists are facing a staffing crunch that's hit many other fields of work, but it is particularly affecting locally owned pharmacies. According to a survey released last year by the National Community Pharmacists Association, more than three-quarters of community pharmacists are having a "tough time filling open positions," which is resulting in longer wait times for customers.
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