CVS to Close Hearing Aid Centers

Rollout comes to a "screeching halt"

WRITTEN BY

David Copithorne

Content Director

28 February 2019

Hearing Health and Technology Matters (HHTM) is reporting that global drugstore giant CVS has decided to close all its hearing centers:

This week, CVS’s grandiose plans to aggressively expand and compete head-to-head with Costco came to a screeching halt. According to multiple sources, including from both CVS employees and suppliers, the company is planning to completely shut down operations of its hearing aid clinics across the US by the end of March

HHTM Feb. 28, 2019

CVS, with nearly 10,000 retail outlets in the U.S., started dipping its toes in the hearing-health market in 2015 when it announced it would open CVS Hearing Centers staffed by audiologists in seven stores in the Dallas and Cleveland.

Would-be disruptor of hearing-aid retail channels

CVS had its eye on Costco's huge success with its hearing centers. And it had enjoyed success with Minute Clinics staffed by healthcare professionals who could provide walk-in medical services. So CVS appeared to be ready to further disrupt the hearing-aid retail channel with a major investment to provide walk-in hearing-aid fitting services.

In the meantime, CVS arch-competitor Walgreen’s made its own foray into hearing health, with a report in 2018 that it had opened 30 hearing aid centers in its pharmacies across seven US States.

In 2017, Drug Store News reported that CVS was continuing its rollout with plans to add up to 50 more locations in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area. But since then, there has been no more than a trickle of news about the initiative.

CVS has not commented on the report that it is shuttering its hearing centers, which was based on multiple sources contacted by HHTM. And the company has remained mum so far on whether it has any plans for a new initiative.

If not, it won't be for lack of resources. CVS last November completed the acquisition of Aetna insurance company and last week reported consolidated 2018 sales of more than $24 billion.

Update

CVS has provided an official statement to HHTM indicating that it is in fact shuttering all “standalone audiology centers” in an effort to focus on over-the-counter hearing aids. See the full statement here.