Drugstore Hours

by Howard Gerber on December 27, 2010

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In a world filled with 24-hour shopping centers, it is hard to imagine that some stores still close at 5:00 pm and are not open on the weekends. This is especially confusing when you’re talking about the field of medicine. However, many locally owned, independent pharmacies do just this. They stick to more traditional business hours, which leaves many customers struggling to fill prescriptions.

Emergencies

After a trip to the emergency room, the last thing many patients want to do is go to the pharmacy. However, if they fill their prescriptions at the hospital pharmacy, they are likely to pay more money. Unfortunately, if the patient lives in a small town, this may be his or her only option if the visit was after hours or on the weekend when their pharmacy is closed. Of course, many of the big retailers have pharmacies that are open until late at night, and the patient could always choose to go there instead on occasion.

Workday

Patrons of pharmacies that close at 5:00 pm must be conscious of their prescriptions and doctors’ appointments in ways that patrons of larger establishments need not be. For example, if a customer of a small pharmacy is low on their medications, they must make sure they can get to their pharmacy before it closes, even if that means leaving work a bit early. If they have a doctor’s appointment, it needs to be early enough in the day that they will be able to reach their pharmacy before closing time if a prescription is needed. While this would not be a problem for someone who does not work, the majority of people do have to consider the demands of their career. It is simply more difficult to find time to go to the pharmacy when the pharmacy’s hours are limited.

Long Term Implications

There are going to be situations where people will need to fill a prescription at times other than what are considered normal business hours. Now that people have become so accustomed to being able to have their needs met at virtually any hour of the day or night, what does this mean for smaller pharmacies? If they want to compete, they will eventually have to stay open later and be available at least part of the weekend. This is especially true as younger generations mature, as they are even more accustomed to instant service. Will this be economically feasible, or will the cultural demand for around the clock service be what eventually eliminates the small town pharmacy as part of the community?

Do you own or work in a privately owned pharmacy? How has your business been affected by the longer hours chain stores are able to offer?

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