Retailers including CVS, Kroger, Walgreens, and Walmart aim to speed up coronavirus vaccine administration

  • Large retailers like CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens are aiding US health officials with coronavirus vaccine administration.
  • And this move could lead to increased volume and brand loyalty.
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Albertsons, CVS, Kroger, Walgreens, and Walmart are among the latest retailers to join Operation Warp Speed to help expedite coronavirus vaccine administration, per PYMNTS.

Retailers assist with US coronavirus vaccine administration.Insider Intelligence

Some large retailers had already begun obtaining industrial freezers and medical supplies as well as implementing online appointment systems back in November, in preparation for coronavirus vaccine administration. This initiative comes amid a slow start to US vaccine distribution and administration: US health officials aimed to vaccinate 20 million people before the end of 2020, but less than 3 million people had been vaccinated by January 1, 2021.

Retail foot traffic has declined significantly during the pandemic, prompting merchants to shift their strategies to maintain volume. In the week of March 13, retail foot traffic plunged 30.7% year over year (YoY) as the realities of the pandemic set in, causing customers to turn away from stores. The overall holiday season—typically a period when retailers see high foot traffic—saw some major declines as consumers continued to avoid store environments: Foot traffic plummeted 52.1% YoY on Black Friday and 31.3% in the seven days leading up to December 24.

Despite these declines, ecommerce offered solace to retailers as consumers turned to online channels to complete their purchases. To meet the ecommerce demand, retailers introduced new systems like click and collect and curbside pickup, helping retail ecommerce sales grow 32.4% YoY in 2020, according to eMarketer forecasts from Insider Intelligence.

Beyond helping restore public health, aiding vaccine administration could potentially lead to higher volume, more foot traffic, and improved brand loyalty for retailers.

  • The initiative helps boost retail foot traffic and may lead to increased in-store sales volume. Retailers participating in vaccine administration will see higher foot traffic from individuals coming into locations for their immunizations. This could have a residual impact for merchants since these individuals may decide to purchase something while in-store. Participation in the initiative presents an opportunity for retailers to increase in-store sales volume, which has historically made up the bulk of overall sales: Despite ecommerce growth, non-ecommerce sales made up 80.8% of retail sales in 2020, according to eMarketer forecasts from Insider Intelligence.
  • It also gives retailers more engagement opportunities, while providing greater brand visibility for consumers. Retailers could get access to contact details from the individuals coming into their locations for the vaccine, potentially creating an opportunity for brand engagement and promotion. However, it's worth noting that this may be subject to legal privacy restrictions. Further, individuals receiving their coronavirus vaccine at retail locations may be more likely to purchase from the brand later on—either through online channels or brick-and-mortar locations—because they'll have an expanded relationship with the retailer and its ecosystem.

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