French pharmacies, 2000-2006: buoyant sales, weaker trade margins
France's 22,600 pharmacies generated €34 billion in sales (inclusive of VAT and other taxes) in 2006. This tightly regulated sector has been particularly buoyant. In recent years, its real sales growth has exceeded that of the total retail sector, averaging 7.4% between 2000 and 2006 versus 2.3%. One of the main drivers has been the increase in drug consumption. In the same period, however, the pharmacies' trade margin fell two points to 27.4% in 2006, a figure ten points below that of other specialized non-food outlets. Operating expenses have outpaced trade margins, causing a 1% annual decline in gross operating surplus in 2004-2006, after a steady annual rise of more than 4% in 2000-2004.