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CVS to close 900 stores over three years

The closures are set to begin in spring 2022, but the company did not say which stores in which state would be affected

CVS Health Corp. signage displayed outside a store .Christopher Lee/Bloomberg

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health announced Thursday morning that the company plans to close 900 stores nationwide over the next three years because of what executives described as changes in consumer shopping behavior, population, and the future of health care needs.

Closures are set to begin in the spring of 2022.

“Our retail stores are fundamental to our strategy and who we are as a company,” CVS president and CEO Karen S. Lynch said in a statement. “We remain focused on the competitive advantage provided by our presence in thousands of communities across the country, which complements our rapidly expanding digital presence.”

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The company did not say which stores would close or whether any stores in New England will be impacted. An undisclosed number of stores will also “reduce store density,” the company said.

The Woonsocket-based company employs more than 300,000 workers across the United States, including more than 40,000 physicians, pharmacists, nurses, and nurse practitioners. Approximately 8,600 people are employed by CVS in Rhode Island and 12,800 in Massachusetts.

Lynch said that the company is committed to offering impacted colleagues roles in other locations or different opportunities as part of its overall workforce strategy, but offered few details. It’s unclear how many employees may be displaced.

Tara Burke, a company spokeswoman, told the Globe that store teams will “always be given advance notice to prepare.”

“Across the company, we are also actively posting, recruiting and hiring for a variety of remote/work-from-home positions, which offer many opportunities across our business and the company for colleagues based in an impacted store,” said Burke in an e-mailed statement.

Because of the planned store closures, CVS said it expects to record an impairment charge in the fourth quarter of this year between $1 billion and $1.2 billion — or between $0.56 and $0.67 of diluted earnings per share.

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CVS had added about 200 stores since 2018, and closed out the end of 2020 with 10,104 locations across the United States. Rival retail pharmacy chain Walgreens shut down nearly 600 stores during that same time. Both have played a large role in the country’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, but staffing shortages have also stressed their individual locations.

The 900 stores the company plans to close represent about 9 percent of CVS locations in the United States.

In the remaining locations, primary care offices will be added to certain sites and some retail stores will be converted into “health hubs” with offerings that include diagnostic testing, mental-health services, and hearing exams.

Neil Saunders, a retail industry analyst, said in a note to investors Thursday that the closure is the result of CVS having overlapping locations and the state of the stores has “pushed some of them into the downward spiral of irrelevance.”

“Too many stores are stuck in the past with bad lighting, depressing interiors, messy merchandising, and a weak assortment of products,” said Saunders. “They are not destinations or places where people go out of anything other than necessity.”



Alexa Gagosz can be reached at alexa.gagosz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @alexagagosz.