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Walgreens Store Is Putting All Merchandise Behind the Counter—Will Others Follow?

Some shoppers say they believe this redesign is an attempt to deter retail theft.

When it comes to shopping at Walgreens, it's often a matter of convenience—especially if you're already there to pick up prescriptions. But the popular drugstore chain may have just made one of its stores a little less straightforward for shoppers. One newly redesigned location has put nearly all merchandise behind the counter, and given customers an entirely new shopping experience in the process. Read on to find out about this change, and if you might see it at your local Walgreens next.

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Walgreens just redesigned one of its stores.

walgreens logo in store
Sundry Photography / Shutterstock

Some Walgreens customers in Chicago are adjusting to a notable change: The retail chain's South Loop location just reopened on May 31 after being renovated with a design that differs from the company's normal layout, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. The store now features a more hands-off experience for shoppers.

"It will continue to offer retail products and pharmacy services, just with a new look and feel that focuses on shopping digitally for convenience," a Walgreens spokesperson told CWB Chicago. "Inside the store, customers will find an area where they can pick-up orders, digital kiosks for placing an order, as well as an area to shop for essential items."

The new location has almost all products behind the counter.

Checkout counter in of the Walgreens store. The Walgreen Company is an American pharmaceutical company which operates the second-largest chain in the USA.

In the redesigned Walgreens, there are only two aisles that resemble the chain's normal layout, stocked with things like over-the-counter (OTC) medicine, soap, cosmetics, snacks, and phone chargers. These rows feature low-rise shelves that are no more than five feet tall and also gated by anti-shoplifting devices, according to CWB Chicago.

Most of the other products are now behind the counter. For the "non-essential" items that are no longer displayed out in the open, Walgreens employees are there to "do the shopping" and fulfill customers needs behind-the-scenes, the company explained. Customers can order from the store's "full selection" using new digital kiosks.

"Relax while we shop for you," read plastic-framed signs next to the kiosks in the store, CWB Chicago reported.

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The company hasn't confirmed any plans to redesign other stores in the same way.

walgreens store logo
Tada Images / Shutterstock

The Chicago store is the only one of its kind right now. A Walgreens spokesperson told CWB Chicago that the company is "testing a new experience at this store with new concepts, technologies, and practices to enhance the experiences of our customers and team members."

But the company hasn't yet given any indication that it's planning to redesign more stores like this. Walgreens spokesperson Megan Boyd told the Sun-Times that the Chicago location is a "one store test."

Best Life reached out to Walgreens to find out if customers should expect similar stores in the future, but has not yet heard back.

Some shoppers believe the new layout is to help with shoplifting.

man in a supermarket stealing a bottle of champagne

Boyd told the Sun-Times that the "new look and feel" of the new Chicago Walgreens is part of the company's "regular tests" to improve the shopping experience for customers. But several regulars at this location told Block Club Chicago they believe the new design is an attempt from the company to deter shoplifting.

Mu Ergin, a South Loop resident and regular of the store, told the news outlet that the Walgreens had been "dirty, smelly and not properly organized" prior to the redesign, adding that he had personal witnessed someone shoplifting beforehand. Police data indicates that there were 19 reported thefts at convenience or drug stores on the store's block last year, per Block Club Chicago.

"I'm pretty amazed at how the store looks more clean now. They're making it smaller so they can control it better," Ergin said. "It's better for me … but I never felt unsafe to start with."

Kali Coleman
Kali Coleman is a Senior Editor at Best Life. Her primary focus is covering news, where she often keeps readers informed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date on the latest retail closures. Read more
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