Covid Shot in the Arm Not Enough to Keep Pharmacies in Business

 Covid Shot in the Arm Not Enough to Keep Pharmacies in Business

Tobin’s pharmacy and department store had already stocked its shelves with Easter and Mother’s Day items last spring, and the staff had just placed the Christmas orders. The shop in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, had been operating on a razor’s edge as retail sales moved online and mail-order pharmacies siphoned off its patients. It was losing money on 1 out of 4 pill bottles filled, so the front of the store, where it sold clothing, cosmetics and jewelry, had been compensating for pharmacy losses for years.

“And then covid hit,” said Dave Schultz, who co-owned the store with his brother. “And that was the final straw.”

The covid-19 pandemic sank many businesses in 2020, particularly those relying on in-person sales to stay afloat. For pharmacies — especially independent pharmacies — the pandemic lockdowns exacerbated long-standing economic pressures. Many small owner-operated pharmacies adapted…

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