The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many businesses to make significant changes to the way they operate. This has presented many different challenges for businesses to overcome. The pharmacy sector has been able to weather the storm and continue to operate throughout the pandemic, whilst some other sectors have been forced to close or work from home.  However, this does not mean that it has come without some challenges which pharmacies have risen to and have been vital during the course of the pandemic. Below we have highlighted some key findings from a recent market overview of the pharmacy industry.


Average dispensing activity

Dispensing activity figures for 2020/21 have decreased slightly compared to the previous year with the monthly average of items dispensed falling from 7,555 to 7,417. This is a fairly small decrease when you consider the new social distancing and health and safety procedures pharmacies had to operate in. Further research has shown that independent and small chain pharmacies performed much better than corporate pharmacies. Corporate pharmacy’s average dispensing activity decreased by 7% whilst independent and small chain pharmacy’s average dispensing activity increased by 3.6% and 2.9% respectively.


Increase in electronic prescription service

The pandemic also caused increased activity in electronic prescription service (EPS). 93.9% of items were dispensed through EPS in 2020/21 compared to 72.6% in 2019/20. The main reason for this large increase is due to more GP surgery’s adopting EPS over the course of the pandemic in order to maintain social distancing.


Online pharmacy platforms increase in popularity

Over the past five years, there has been a gradual increase in online pharmacy platforms up to the start of the pandemic. However, in 2020 the percentage of items dispensed via this method increased to 2.9% from 1.3% in 2019 (the largest year-on-year growth so far). This increase during the pandemic could cause further growth in this dispensing method in years to come.


Boom in first-time buyers for pharmacies

Over the past year, the number of pharmacies being brought has increased. The main reason for this is because the profile of pharmacies has increased during the pandemic. 80% of applicant registrations have come from first-time pharmacy buyers. Furthermore, the most sales agreed and sales completed were also by first-time buyers at 32% and 35% respectively.


How can we help?

At Hawsons our dedicated team of pharmacy accountants offer a specialist service to community pharmacists and locum pharmacists. We can assist you with accountancy and taxation needs, utilising our in-depth knowledge and experience in the sector.

We recognise that no two pharmacies are the same and have experience in dealing with pharmacies of varying sizes and ownerships structures.

Scott Sanderson

Partner, Sheffield

0114 266 7141

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