I’ve previously written in this space about the explosive growth that in-store retail clinics experienced during the infancy of their life-cycle. For multiple reasons, that growth stalled, and a smaller group of operators remained to operate the successful locations. Buoyed by new Take Care and MinuteClinic sites – owned by Walgreens and CVS Caremark, respectively – the total number of retail clinics has since leveled off at around 1,500 in recent months. Looking forward, the industry could be poised for new growth as many newly-insured customers enter the market under the Affordable Care Act. CVS Caremark’s own Chief Medical Officer Andy Sussman is projecting the number of MinuteClinic locations to more than double from 770 to 1,500 over the next four years.

Chain Store Guide has been tracking retail clinic growth since its inception. As of January 2014, there are 1,564 in-store locations at retail drug stores.  With the health care reform’s impact beginning to take shape and the big retail players’ commitment to growth, retail clinics could experience another wave of growth over the next three to four years.


Projected Four-Year Retail Clinic Growth

Projected 4yr Retail Clinic Growth

Source: Chain Store Guide’s Database of Drug Store and HBC Chains. Projections based on editorial estimates and industry observations.


Based on industry observations, retail clinics are expected to play a key role in providing treatment for the (expected) millions of Americans obtaining new health care coverage under the Obamacare plan. Because of this expansion, there is also expected to be a shortage of physicians. This is where Walgreens, CVS, and other retailers see themselves filling the void, especially on common and mild ailments that require medical attention. Dr. Sussman of CVS has been quoted telling Forbes that “We face a profound shortage of primary care physicians,” and that “In many of our markets, nearly half of patients don’t have a physician.” A fascinating statement, and one that could soon signal a major change in how drug stores operate in the near future.