Walgreen Co said on Monday that sales at drugstores open at least a year rose 2.3 percent in March, as an earlier Easter drove sales of candy and other general merchandise and an extra weekday boosted sales of prescription medications.

Total March sales at the largest U.S. drugstore chain rose 6.4 percent to $5.82 billion.

Comparable pharmacy sales rose 2.4 percent. Those sales got a 1.7 percentage point boost from calendar day shifts. March 2010 had one more Wednesday and one less Sunday than March 2009, and customers tend to fill more prescriptions on weekdays than on weekends. Prescription sales were also helped by patients filling more 90-day prescriptions, which count as three 30-day prescriptions in the month that they are filled.

Same-store sales of general merchandise rose 2.2 percent, and were helped by about 2.1 percentage points due to the earlier Easter holiday, Walgreen said.

As of March 31, Walgreen operated 7,225 drugstores, 489 more than a year earlier.

(Reporting by Jessica Wohl, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)