DEERFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- Walgreen said Monday that a key sales measurement improved in December as customers filled more prescriptions during trips to the company's drugstores.
The company said sales at stores open at least a year grew 6.1 percent for the month, mostly because revenue from pharmacy departments improved. At stores open at least one year, pharmacy revenue rose 9 percent and sales of non-pharmacy items sold at the front of its stores increased 2.5 percent.
Sales at stores open at least a year are considered an important measurement of retailer health because they exclude results from stores that have opened or closed within the last year.
According to Thomson Reuters analysts expected growth of 3.9 percent.
Walgreen says it has given 6.7 million flu shots at pharmacies and clinics this season, up from 5.5 million a year ago. However it gave fewer flu shots at older stores and reported lower incidence of flu.
The company said its total sales grew 7.2 percent to $7.2 billion in December. Pharmacy revenue rose 10.2 percent and front-end sales grew 4 percent. Walgreen said customer traffic decreased, but shoppers spent more money.
Walgreen Co. had 8,200 drugstores at the end of 2013. The company has locations in 50 states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Shares of Walgreen rose 51 cents to $57.33 in midday trading.