As the chains continue to struggle with staffing shortages following the COVID-19 pandemic, CVS and Walmart are reducing the hours during which their pharmacies are open across the United States in an effort to improve employees’ work-life balance.
As part of a regular review of “operating hours to make sure we’re open during peak customer demand,” CVS stated that it will “adjust hours in select stores” come spring. According to a statement provided to CBS MoneyWatch by a company spokesperson, the change will take effect in March and affect approximately two-thirds of the company’s approximately 9,000 retail pharmacies.
A CVS spokesperson stated that the pharmacy chain, which is the largest by revenue in the United States, is making the schedule adjustments to “ensure our pharmacy teams are available to serve patients when they’re most needed.” A spokesperson added, “If a pharmacy is closed, a patient can visit any open CVS Pharmacy location for assistance with their immediate prescription needs.”
The pay goes up and hours go down at Walmart
Additionally, Walmart stated that it will reduce pharmacy hours across the country in order to improve associates’ “work-life balance.”
Monday through Friday, Walmart pharmacies will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. In the past, they were open on weekdays until 9 p.m.
“Walmart is committed to helping our associates live better. 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,” Walmart said in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch.
Walmart stated that it is altering the schedule in response to customer and pharmacy staff feedback.
“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 and support our associates as they continue to serve their communities every day,” Walmart said.
Walmart announced wage increases for over 36,000 pharmacy technicians in the middle of June, bringing their average hourly pay up to more than $20.
According to Michael Hogue, dean of the Loma Linda University School of Pharmacy, there were more opportunities for employment for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians before the pandemic.
Regional and national pharmacy chains were clamoring for qualified employees to support the massive public health campaign as the COVID-19 vaccines began to be distributed for the first time in 2021. The number of job opportunities for pharmacy students increased dramatically.
Pay rises and more pharmacists are hired by Walgreens
The second-largest pharmacy chain in the United States, Walgreens, has also said that staffing issues have necessitated altering pharmacy hours over the past 12 to 18 months.
To address ongoing staffing issues, Walgreens added that it has increased pharmacy workers’ pay and hired thousands of pharmacists. It stated that the efforts are paying off and the issues are getting better.
“We have seen positive staffing trends for the past several months as we work to return more stores to normal operating hours,” Walgreens said.
When the COVID-19 vaccines were first made available to the general public in February 2021, pharmacies began aggressively hiring pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to accelerate efforts to inoculate as many people as possible. Drugstore chains offered substantial signing bonuses of up to $20,000, and job postings for pharmacists increased.