The Reason Pharmacies Are Usually Located in the Back of a Store

Pharmacists are happy to help. But only after you've walked through the entire store.
Pharmacists are happy to help. But only after you've walked through the entire store. / Tom Merton/iStock via Getty Images

There’s no such thing as random or accidental when it comes to the layout of retail stores. Everything is designed to make you, the consumer, spend as much money as possible, from candy near the checkout aisles to expensive items placed at eye level.

In the case of pharmacy counters, their location—typically tucked away in the back of a store like CVS or Walgreens—is a plain attempt to make sure your wallet grows lighter with each passing step.

According to Reader’s Digest, drugstores like to put the medication in the back because prescriptions are considered “destination products,” or the sole reason you might be stepping foot inside a particular store in the first place. If you walk into a store and then have to make your way through it in a counter-clockwise direction, as many people tend to do, you’ll likely pass items or displays that the store wants you to see. Knowing you have to see the pharmacist or their staff, stores want to have you walking past products in the hopes you’ll grab some household items to add to your prescriptions.

You also might need to walk by an elaborate supplement display near the pharmacy counter. This placement makes it easier for consumers to ask the pharmacist questions about nutritional products, which in turn also makes them more likely to pick up a few extra items.

The reason isn’t solely marketing, though. Like grocery stores that keep their dairy products in the back, stores are better able to fill shelves when a department is near an exit or loading area. Chances are the pharmacy will be adjacent to a back room or other storage area that makes restocking more convenient. (It might also help thwart robberies, too, since thieves would also have to navigate an entire store before exiting.) And if the pharmacy has a drive-thru, employees will obviously need access to an exterior wall.

Mystery solved. Now you can go back to wondering why CVS receipts are so insanely long.

[h/t Reader’s Digest]