Rite Aid (RAD): An Overview

Rite Aid (RAD) is an American drugstore company that provides consumers with health and wellness products and services. In addition to filling prescriptions and selling over-the-counter remedies, Rite Aid also sells cosmetics, groceries, stationery supplies, hygiene and grooming supplies, and other basic consumer goods.

The Rite Aid chain started as the Thrif D Discount Center in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in 1962. The chain expanded to 21 retail outlets by 1965. In 1968, it changed its name to Rite Aid after adding the 22nd location to its roster. That was the same year Rite Aid went public, trading on the American Stock Exchange (AMEX). The stock moved over to the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in 1970.

Key Takeaways

  • Rite Aid is a major player in the drugstore segment of the retail industry.
  • Some of its direct competitors including CVS Health and Walgreens Boots Alliance.
  • The chain also faces competition from major retailer Walmart and pharmacy departments of major national supermarkets.
  • Independent pharmacies, which are faring better than traditional drugstore chains, are also major competitors.

Rite Aid completed a series of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and also relies heavily on partnerships. For instance, the company acquired Michigan-based Perry Drugs in 1995 and formed a relationship with General Nutrition Companies (better known to most as GNC) to provide its products within Rite Aid locations.

The company operates about 2,500 stores in 19 different states and employs more than 51,000 people. Rite Aid reported revenue from continuing operations of $21.9 billion and a net loss of $469.2 million from continuing operations.

Just like any other part of the retail space, there's a great degree of competition within the drugstore industry. This article looks at some of Rite Aid's largest competitors in the market.

Competition in the Pharmacy Industry

Rite Aid's main competitors include large drugstores that offer the same type of products and services, notably those in the health and wellness segment. These names include CVS Health (CVS) and Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA). Major retailer Walmart (WMT), which also has a large pharmacy and health department, also eats away at Rite Aid's market share.

The drugstore also faces competition from independent pharmacies. These are privately-owned drugstores that aren't part of a large national chain. According to research, independent pharmacies are faring, with more locations opening up compared to their chain store counterparts.

To complicate matters even more, we can add grocery stores to the mix, too. Stores like Kroger (KR), Safeway, and Publix also serve customers in the health and wellness segment. These locations mainly rely on existing grocery customers, rather than trying to woo new customers with expanded health care services as other pharmacy chains do.

Rite Aid is the seventh-largest drug store chain in the United States.

CVS Health

CVS Health is the largest drugstore chain in the United States. The company has more than 9,900 locations in 49 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

The company opened its first location in 1963 in Lowell, Massachusetts. It began trading on the NYSE in 1996. Three years later, the company launched its online pharmacy presence, offering online refills to customers.

CVS is partnered with the pharmacy benefits management system Caremark. In 2014, CVS announced it would stop selling tobacco products in all locations, and began charging a higher copay to Caremark members who filled prescriptions at other pharmacies that still sold tobacco. Rite Aid responded in February 2015, saying it would acquire its own PBM, EnvisionRX.

The company's revenue for the 2020 fiscal year came in at $268.7 billion, earning $15.9 billion in cash flow from operations.

Walgreens Boots Alliance

Walgreens Boots Alliance is the country's second-largest retail pharmacy chain, operating more than 9,000 locations across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to the company's website, it filled 287.6 million prescriptions in 2020 and employs more than 225,000 people.

The company started as a single pharmacy in Chicago in 1901. It went public in 1927, Like others, it relies heavily on acquisitions and partnerships to fuel its growth. For instance, Walgreens acquired Duane Reed in 2010 and purchased online drug retailer drugstore.com in 2011. The company purchased a 45% stake in European drugstore chain Alliance Boots in 2012 and purchased the remaining share in 2014.

Walgreens tried to purchase Rite Aid in 2015. But the deal didn't receive approval from federal authorities. After the deal was nixed, Walgreens decided to purchase almost half of its rival's stores. The announcement was made in 2017.

Walgreens earned $139.5 billion in sales during the 2020 fiscal year, with operating income coming in at $1.3 billion for the year.


Walmart is a multinational corporation that sells clothing, retail, groceries, home goods, and electronics. It operates almost 11,500 stores across the world, more than 4,700 of which are in the United States.

Nearly all Walmart stores include a pharmacy, which includes health, beauty, and wellness products as well. Since 2008, Walmart has sold generic medications for $4 for a 30-day supply and $10 for a 90-day supply.

This department, along with grocery and electronics, is one of the company's three strongest areas. Together, the three account for the majority of Walmart's business. Annual revenue for 2021 came in at $560 billion.

The Bottom Line

The drugstore industry is a very competitive part of the retail industry. Mergers, acquisitions, and strategic partnerships play a key role for some of the major players in the industry, including Rite Aid. While it isn't the largest name on the list, the company does have a big footprint in the United States, falling behind big names like CVS and Walgreens.

Rite Aid also faces some stiff competition from the likes of corporate giant Walmart and the country's major supermarket chains, which have their own pharmacy departments. Independent pharmacies are also eating away at market share, with more of these operations opening up locations across the country.