Rite Aid in Central Jersey becomes Walgreens

September 27, 2019

By Dave Schatz and David P. Willis | My Central Jersey, USA Today Network

CENTRAL JERSEY – Renovations this fall, including new signs and interiors, will convert some Rite Aid stores into full Walgreens locations.

While several stores have quietly converted, or are in the process of rebranding, about a dozen will remain Rite Aid locations, according to the drugstore chain.

“The stores will undergo physical upgrades and enhancements, including new interior and exterior design and signage, before it officially opens as a fully branded Walgreens,” a Walgreens spokeswoman told the USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey.

The pharmacy departments will remain open throughout the entire conversion process, but the front end of the stores will close for five days prior to their completion date, the spokeswoman said.

In 2018, Walgreens, which is owned by Walgreens Boots Alliance, purchased 1,932 Rite Aid stores, including 120 in New Jersey, according to a Walgreens spokesman.

In Middlesex County, the Rite Aid at 15 Summerhill Road, Spotswood reopened as a Walgreens last week following a five-day remodel. While the store was closed, a portion of the parking lot accommodated seven transportable storage units typically seen at construction sites.

Rite Aid locations in Middlesex County that have converted, or are in the process of converting, to Walgreens include stores at 231 Prospect St., South River; 3891 Route 516, Old Bridge; and 314 Applegarth Road, Monroe. The Carteret store, among others in the county, are permanently closed.

A Rite Aid spokesman confirmed the location at 336 George St., New Brunswick would remain, as would seven others in Middlesex County: 10 Lincoln Highway, Edison; 416 Route 1, Edison; 5 Lafayette Road, Fords; 332 Raritan Avenue, Highland Park; 841 Georges Road, North Brunswick; 3553 Washington Road, Parlin; and 76 Smith Street, Perth Amboy.

In Somerset County, three Rite Aid stores will remain: 773 Hamilton St., Somerset; 353 Route 202/206, Bridgewater; and 132 N. Gaston Ave., Somerville. The location at 464 Elizabeth Ave., Somerset, now shuttered, “went to Walgreens,” according to Rite Aid.

In Hunterdon County, Rite Aid retained ownership of its store at 531 Route 22 East, Whitehouse Station.

In Union County, the Rite Aid stores in Clark, at 142 Central Ave., and in Union, 327 Chestnut St., have converted to Walgreens, leaving no remaining Rite Aid locations in the county.

Once the stores become fully-branded Walgreens, they will carry the company’s store brands, including Nice! and No7, pharmacy and health care services, a broader selection of national brand products, and FedEx shipping and pick up services. They also will have Balance(r) Rewards, Walgreens’ customer loyalty program.

The purchase of the Rite Aid stores, including a large number in New Jersey, will help Walgreens compete with CVS Pharmacy, the largest chain pharmacy in the state, said retail analyst Burt Flickinger III.

“With the Rite Aid acquisition, it makes Walgreens, which has been so strong in the Central and Western U.S., much more of a force in New Jersey,” Flickinger said.

On the grocery side, the demise of A&P and Pathmark has helped Walgreens, Flickinger said. “Walgreens has done very well with the combination food and pharmacy stores,” he said.

Beauty products, cosmetics and fragrances are the fastest growing area for chain drug stores, another strong business for Walgreens, he said.

By adding stores to its portfolio, Walgreens showed “a solid set of overall numbers (by the end of its fiscal year, 2018) boost(ing) overall quarterly sales, which rose by 10.9 percent over the prior year,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, a consultancy.