Walgreens is seriously my jam. I am with you, people of the internet who have searched, “Is there a Walgreens in the UK?” or “Is there a Walgreens in London?”
I am with you. I love Walgreens so much that as a child, I waited during the holidays for the Walgreens ad and then did my Christmas shopping for my family from it.
Hey, sidenote! If you’re traveling to the UK, whether for a short period of time or as an expat, why don’t you join my Facebook group where you can ask questions, get advice or just look at pretty pictures of this part of the world! Just click here to request to join and I’ll add you!
Also, Walgreens is good for normal people who buy toiletries and other drug store items there instead of waiting all year for the Christmas lights and singing Santas, but you know.
Anyway, the question is…
“Is there a Walgreens in the UK or England or London?”
And the answer is no. There isn’t a Walgreens in the UK or London, however Boots is a UK drug store now owned by a parent company connected with Walgreens.
Before I try and unravel the history of Walgreens in the UK or why there isn’t a Walgreens in London, we’ve got some other things to tend to.
It takes everything you think you know about the UK and either explains it or shows you what you’re really getting yourself into (major small talk and frequent tea breaks, woo!)
Secondly, I’ve put together some great articles for anyone interested in moving to the UK or visiting the UK for a short amount of time.
Expats in the UK will love the resources on learning how to drive here, while study abroad students need to read the tips on understanding UK money ASAP so you don’t look too embarrassing sitting at the counter counting change that you’ve never seen before.
No matter who you are or why you’re coming to the UK (or maybe you won’t now after you learned there is no Walgreens…) I’ve got the perfect slightly awkward, mostly hilarious anecdotes of my own mistakes so you won’t make your own!
- Culture Shock: The Things We Don’t Talk About
- An American Girl’s Guide to Surviving the London Underground
- Understanding UK Money: Pence, Not Cents!
- Driving in England as an American: An Apology to UK Drivers
Anyway, moving along to Walgreens in the UK.
History of Walgreens
As you very well may know, Walgreens is a huge name in the American drug store business. It’s actually the second largest in the US behind CVS (check out this article on whether there is a CVS in the UK).
There are almost 10,000 locations across the US, though it started in 1901 with just a single drug store in Chicago.
In the 100+ years in between, it has grown leaps and bounds and acquired lots of different stores and franchises (which we’ll talk more about in a second).
Walgreens fills prescriptions, sells over-the-counter drugs like cold medicine, and sells toiletries, snacks, seasonal items, beauty items and also has photo services.
There are Walgreens in all 50 states, meaning that anyone from the US will have one in your state (and will likely have passed one in your travels even if one is not directly by you!)
Walgreens and Boots Merger
In December of 2014, Walgreens decided to expand by purchasing 55% of an existing drug store company, named Alliance Boots.
This meant that two companies came together to form a new global business, known as the Walgreens Boots Alliance.
This new company has businesses in over 25 countries and includes the UK drug store, known as Boots.
Boots mostly operates under the International branch of the Walgreens Boots Alliance, though there are Boots in other countries besides the UK.
Equivalent to Walgreens in the UK
Just because there are no Walgreens in the UK doesn’t mean you can’t access prescriptions and toiletries (and in my case Christmas supplies) whenever you need.
As discussed, Boots is the closest thing to Walgreens in the UK and is actually part of a larger Walgreens alliance. If you want an equivalent to Walgreens, you can’t get closer to Boots.
They do essentially the same thing as Walgreens does, including prescriptions, toiletries, baby items, snacks, make-up and other “around the house” items like plug converters, batteries, and more.
You can find them both in London and across the UK. London has some particularly large ones with multiple floors that are perfect for a doing a one-stop shop in, but you can find them almost anywhere.
Superdrug is another drug store that you can use instead of Walgreens. I like Boots better, but if you just need something basic and aren’t too concerned about your shopping experience (Boots tends to be brighter and roomier, in my opinion), then you’re good to go!