Over 50% of pharmacists feel positive about business prospects in 2021
Specialist business property adviser, Christie & Co, has today launched its annual Business Outlook report, ‘Business Outlook 2021: Review. Realign. Recover,’ which reflects on the themes, activity and challenges of 2020 and forecasts what 2021 might bring across the industries in which Christie & Co operates, including the pharmacy sector.
Despite the wider impact Covid-19 has had on many business sectors, pharmacy is one that has fared well in comparison. The pandemic forced many businesses to close but, due to the necessity of its services, the pharmacy sector remained open. This, however, did not come without challenges, which included financial pressures, social distancing and PPE compliance, and rising supply and demand. Overall, the increased profile the sector generated across the year, largely driven by its tremendous response to support primary care services, contributed to a buoyant market in 2020.
Christie & Co reported strong levels of buyer interest in the pharmacy sector throughout 2020, both from existing operators looking to expand their activities and first-time buyers still keen to acquire, which resulted in a 14% increase in completions and a 9.5% increase in sales agreed compared with 2019. Throughout the year, pharmacy proved itself as a key frontline sector, and Christie & Co remains optimistic that, as the vaccination programme continues to roll-out and pharmacies further increase their presence in the community, activity in the pharmacy market will remain strong throughout 2021.
The report goes on to detail the headline impacts of Covid-19 on the sector, how Covid-19 has affected business property activity, how the sector has adapted to pursue business operations through these challenging times, the progress of recovery in the sector, and the funding landscape.
Christie & Co also surveyed a pool of pharmacy operators to obtain their views on sentiment in the market, and the opportunities they see for their businesses in 2021.
When asked to measure the impact that Covid-19 has had on their pharmacy businesses, 36.4% said that the pandemic had a ‘positive impact’. 33.3% said it has had a ‘severe’ or ‘significant’ impact, 24.2% said it has had a ‘low’ or ‘moderate’ impact, and just 6.1% stated that it has had no impact at all. This mix of responses is likely due to pharmacies remaining open and the result of how they adapted to the increasing challenges faced.
When asked ‘How optimistic are you about business recovery in 2021?’, over 50 per cent of pharmacists said they are feeling ‘positive’, with 62.1 per cent feeling that the sector will take less than one year to return to pre-COVID levels. Additionally, the survey found that 73 per cent of pharmacists consider that there are opportunities within the sector, 38.7 per cent said they are looking to sell their business in 2021, and 29 per cent said they are looking to acquire a business or additional pharmacy this year. The survey responses underpin the current levels of confidence in the pharmacy sector and evoke optimism in the new year.
Also included in the report is Christie & Co’s Price Index, which revealed neutral price movement reflecting a combination of continued demand for pharmacies, heightened by the pandemic, alongside financial pressures of the industry. Interestingly, 50 per cent of operators interviewed commented that they expect to see an increase in average prices paid in 2021.
Additionally, the report shares market predictions for the year ahead:
- Judging by the current levels of interest and appetite for pharmacy opportunities, we are confident that the market will continue to perform well throughout 2021.
- Following the approval of the; Pfizer BioNTech, University of Oxford /AstraZeneca and Moderna NIAID vaccines, the government’s strategy to vaccinate 15 million people by the end of February is expected to result in the progressive relaxation of the currently imposed lockdown measures. In doing so, such easing of restrictions is expected to fuel further sales activity.
- Pharmacy as a sector is expected to play an increasingly important role in the implementation of the national vaccination programme, further enhancing its profile as a key primary care service.
- Further consolidation of corporate pharmacy estates is likely as they continue to divest marginal assets.
Tony Evans, Head of Pharmacy at Christie & Co, comments, “After what can only be described as a turbulent year, pharmacy responded well to the challenges the pandemic delivered. In doing so, many were quick to realise not only the important role pharmacy plays in the delivery of primary care, but also the opportunity to extend the services the sector can offer. Our sales activity is testimony to the continued appetite and confidence we have seen and bodes well for a healthy market in 2021.”
To read the full report, ‘Business Outlook 2021: Review. Realign. Recover’, please visit: christie.com/News-Resources/Business-Outlook/2021/Pharmacy-Business-Outlook-2021