- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 5, 2014

DEERFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Walgreen Co. said Wednesday that a key sales figure rose last month, boosted by stronger growth at its pharmacies and an increase in the number of flu shots it administered.

The drugstore operator said sales at stores open at least a year rose 4.5 percent in February from the same month a year ago. At stores open at least a year, pharmacy sales rose 6.1 percent, while sales at the front of the stores rose 2 percent.

Sales at stores open at least a year is considered a key indicator of a retailer’s financial health. It strips away the impact of recently opened or closed stores.

Walgreen said it administered 7.7 million flu shots at its pharmacies so far this season, up 10 percent from 7 million last year.

Total sales rose to $6.05 billion in the month, up 5 percent from $5.76 billion in February 2013. Its pharmacy sales accounted for 63 percent of total sales for the month.

Walgreen, based in Deerfield, Ill., operates over 8,200 drugstores.

Its shares fell 59 cents to $68.50 in morning trading. They have risen 68 percent over the past year.

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