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Global Pharmacy & Personal Care Store Industry

The global drugstore industry (as part of the wide specialty store industry) is expected to reach almost $555 billion by 2015, according to research from Global Industry Analysts. Factors fuelling market growth include the growing customer base of elderly people and health-conscious individuals as well as availability of more low-cost medicines and services. Drugstores are involved in the retail sale of not only medicines but also miscellaneous products such as refreshments, candy, cosmetics, toiletries and magazines and photo processing services.

Types of retailers operating in the global drugstore industry include supermarkets, chain drugstores, mail order, mass merchandisers and independent drugstores. Drugstore industry revenues were not adversely affected by the economic recession, though the industry’s growth rate and revenues have fallen somewhat in recent years.


State regulations governing prices, prescriptions, medicines, ownership and staffing are in place in most nations to regulate pharmaceutical retailing. Research from the University of California points to difficulty in enforcing these regulations in low and middle-income nations due to the high degree of fragmentation in pharmaceutical retail markets.

Retail pharmacies have a range of operating practices in different countries. In the UK, the US, Canada and parts of East Asia and Latin America, large retail chains such as Farmacias Similares, Walmart, Boots, Payless and Watsons are prevalent. However, regulations in Asia, Africa and the EU restrict pharmacy ownership, which makes the climate either difficult or impossible for chains and franchises.

Types of Drugstores

There is a range of different categories of retail drug stores in operation in the global pharmacy and personal care store industry, including national or regional chains and independent drug stores, which are licensed to sell goods and dispense medications. Chain drug stores operating under the franchise model have their locations where they avail of corporate branding, marketing strategies and distribution channels, for which they pay fees.

The majority of retail drug stores have both a pharmacy section and a general retail section to sell over-the-counter medication as well as beauty products, food, beverages and a range of goods like toys, clothing and electronics. Medication sales represent the main generator of revenue for the retail drug store industry.

Regional Market Share

The US and the EU are leaders in the global drugstore industry. Elderly people generate the highest demand in the US drugstore market, followed by health-conscious consumers. The number of independently owned drugstores and online drugstores in the EU is predicted to rise. The UK, Norway and Sweden have the highest number of chain drugstores across the EU. Germany holds the biggest share in the EU online drugstores market, followed by France. Asia-Pacific boasts the fastest-growing regional market in the global drugstore industry; market growth in Asia-Pacific is fuelled by an increasing elderly population and greater awareness as to the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

Hoovers estimates there are around 42,000 drug store facilities in operation in the US drugstore market, generating yearly revenues of around $220 billion. Leading names include Rite Aid, CVS Caremark and Walgreens. The market is characterized by a high degree of concentration, with the 50 leading outfits contributing around 70% of overall industry revenue.


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