CVS Operates Fewer Stores in Communities of Color
Nationally, CVS’s store location choices have the effect of “redlining” communities of color and areas with sizable Latino populations in terms of store location. For example, aggregating data from all U.S. zip codes, CVS operates thirty-seven percent more stores per person in majority white areas than in other communities nationwide. The gap is even larger when comparisons are made between the “whitest” and the least “white” communities. Communities where more than 90 percent of the residents are people of color have just over half as many CVS stores per person as communities where the population is more than 90 percent white.
CVS’s store location decisions not only have a racially discriminatory impact but also disproportionately affect lower-income communities. Aggregating data from all U.S. zip codes, CVS operates 19 percent more stores per person in the wealthiest communities (where the median household income exceeds $80,000) than in the least affluent (where the median household income is less than $40,000).
Across several metropolitan areas, CVS has demonstrated a pattern of closing stores in the least affluent areas and in communities of color only to open in more in well-to-do or whiter areas, already saturated with pharmacy options.
CVS Limits Condom Access for Some
Another CVS practice that disproportionally affects communities of color is the chain’s lockup of condoms. Condoms are one of the best defenses against unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS, but CVS makes it difficult for people of color to obtain them. At hundreds of stores across the country in areas where people of color predominate, CVS displays condoms in locked cabinets that require customers to summon CVS staff to unlock them and then monitors customers while making their selections. CVS is less likely to lock up condoms in areas with fewer residents of color, and the chain’s two main competitors do not lock up condoms.CVS Focuses Anti-Theft Measures on Communities of Color
Two years ago, CVS angered African American shoppers when television stations in two markets reported that the chain was placing security tags on hair care products for African Americans but not on similar products for white people.
Unsanitary CVS Stores in Communities of Color
Another public health concern for CVS shoppers is the discriminatory effect of the company’s uneven compliance with local health codes. In three different markets, CVS stores in more affluent areas and white areas have been less likely to violate state and local food safety regulations than CVS stores in lower income areas and areas where people of color are a majority. That is the finding of an analysis of recent years’ food safety inspection reports for CVS stores in the City of Philadelphia, Greater Detroit, and the counties comprising New York City, Long Island and the Hudson Valley.
Cure CVS is an initiative by Change to Win and partner organizations to reform the drugstore industry, starting with CVS. Cure CVS aims to ensure that CVS provides equal access across all communities and income levels to its stores and services, offers fair and accurate prices, provides quality products and services, protects customers’ privacy and puts quality pharmacy care first.
CVS accused of poor service in minority communities [Detroit News, 12/4/08]
CVS treats Detroit customers unfairly, study finds [Detroit Free Press, 12/4/080]
CVS is bad prescription for minority neighborhoods, group charges [New York Daily News, 12/3/08]