Tips for Your Pharmacy this Holiday Season

This holiday season, traditions are going to look a bit different.  Gatherings will be smaller. Families and friends more distant.  Still, we try to keep the spirit of the season alive and pay homage to the traditions we can.

Next week, my Thanksgiving table won’t be quite as crowded as usual, but we’ll still take the time to sit down for a turkey-centric family meal and be grateful for the time we have together.

As different as this year is, next week still brings with it the sprint to December 25th, and the end of the year.   So, in what’s become a bit of a holiday season tradition here at RMS, here are our top tips for keeping your retail pharmacy running smoothly during the holidays, with a few tweaks for this socially distanced season.


  • Make sure your shelves are stocked. Customers that come in to pick up something specific aren’t likely to wait in long lines just to ask if you have more. Also keep over stock easily accessible for quick restocking during slack times or after hours. If you are out of stock on popular items, consider signage with a restock ETA.
  • Consider extended holiday hours. Convenience and flexibility will rule the season. An extra hour in the evening might make all the difference to customers this time of year. Even pharmacies without retail heavy front ends can consider extended hours to give customers extra time to pick up prescriptions and OTC necessities and discourage convenience shopping elsewhere.
  • Review staffing. Normally, we’d recommend looking at last year’s transaction volume to determine staffing, but this year is a bit different, so you might want to look at a few sets of numbers. Look at the previous rolling quarter and the same time frame last year. Then look at last year’s holiday numbers and adjust either up or down based on trends you saw between last year and this year. As always, your POS system should offer an option to see the hourly customer count for a specified timeframe so that you can identify peak times for you store.
  • Place product strategically throughout your store . Put your stocking stuffers next to the checkout, or where customers wait while their prescriptions are prepared. If you have a new item that you’d like to push, have it next to your holiday best sellers. This is another area where your POS system can help by identifying your most popular products. A good tweak this year is to keep products by the drive thru window or where they can easily be grabbed on the way out the door for curbside pickup.
  • In that same vein don’t forget to make the most of every interaction, whether it’s in person or not. Here’s an article from Computer Talk that talks about ways to keep it personal in every interaction.
  • Prepare your staff. For some employees this may be their first retail experience and the busy holiday season can be overwhelming. Make sure they understand their responsibilities and priorities, provide them with a resource if they need assistance (perhaps an experienced clerk or store manager) and you’ll help them keep a positive attitude even during the most hectic times. It’s also important to make sure they take a break, even if they don’t think there’s time. A burnt out and tired employee is less effective and your customers will notice.
  • Don’t be afraid to get into the spirit of the season! Sometimes we all forget what the holidays are about and that enthusiastic pharmacy assistant may just brighten someone’s day and help your store to stand out from the crowd. This is so important this year!

Last but not least, here are a couple of reminders for important dates this season.