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Walgreens the latest to squeeze national brands

Drugstore giant is eliminating 3,500 items as it expands skin-care and vitamin selections, and also prepares to add beer and wine.

Retailers are continuing to streamline product offerings in their stores by squeezing shelf space on national brands in an attempt to focus on the best-sellers and also their own brands. For national brands, the outfall is an imperative to be either in the top tier or two of national brands or to bring enough niche destination shoppers through the front door so that products elsewhere around the store can fly off shelves.

Walgreens is joining the parade. An article in the Chicago Tribune points out that the drugstore giant is removing 3,500 items from its shelves to focus on fewer, better selling items. The plan has begun in 700 stores and will expand to as many as 3,000 stores by fall.

In addition, many stores will devote more shelf space to skin-care and vitamin products, and 5,500 Walgreens stores will stock beer and wine by the end of 2010.

Walgreens has tested the new concept at 31 pilot stores, reporting that sales there were up 2%.

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