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Walmart says users of weight loss drugs are buying less food

The retailer used anonymized data on shopping patterns, based on customers who pick up prescriptions and buy groceries at its stores.
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/ Source: NBC News

Walmart says people who get weight loss drugs like Wegovy at its pharmacies are buying a bit less food at its stores.

Walmart's U.S. CEO, John Furner, told Bloomberg News that the company is seeing signs that people taking GLP-1 agonist appetite suppressant medications are buying "less units, slightly less calories."

GLP-1 agonists include semaglutide, which is sold under the name Ozempic as a Type 2 diabetes treatment and Wegovy as a weight loss drug; as well as Mounjaro and Victoza.

The retail giant is comparing shoppers who pick up a prescription for those medications at its pharmacies to shoppers who are otherwise similar but aren't filling those scripts at Walmart. Using anonymized data, it's looking for patterns in the spending of those groups, and it says the first group is buying less food.

Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart, Inc., said in August that the growing popularity of the drugs was helping its sales.

Wegovy.
Wegovy.Steffen Trumpf / dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images file

According to Trilliant Health, prescriptions of those medications quadrupled from late 2020 to 2022, with 9 million prescriptions filled in the last three months of last year.

Walmart previously recorded stronger grocery sales when high inflation was driving wealthier shoppers to its stores. In summer 2022, after inflation had topped out at 9.1%, the company said it saw more customers in higher income brackets shunning expensive grocery stores in favor of Walmart's lower prices.

In a company earnings release at the time, McMillion said, “We’re pleased to see more customers choosing Walmart during this inflationary period, and we’re working hard to support them as they prioritize their spending.”

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