Skift Take

To get customers in the door, retailers — whether grocery stores or athleisure brands — are offering fitness classes. It’s not a bad idea considering the popularity of working out these days, combined with the struggles of brick-and-mortar.

The Skift Wellness newsletter is our  weekly dispatch focused on what’s happening in wellness from a global business standpoint. Skift Wellness lives where wellness meets commerce, mindfulness meets technology, the yoga studio meets the boardroom, and health meets business.

A decade ago, it seemed like every grocery store was remodeling to install a coffee bar so customers could down a latte or chai tea while they filled up their carts.

Today, caffeine isn’t the only thing drawing customers to shop, though it still probably helps. Supermarkets are now thinking about how they can incorporate fitness into their stores to lure customers who might want to both exercise and pick up a few goods.

Whole Foods leads the charge on this front, which doesn’t come as a surprise. Its flagship store in Austin hosts rooftop classes taught by instructors from local studios.

But it’s not just upscale health food stores getting in on the trend. Hy-Vee, a Midwestern grocery chain, has partnered with Orangetheory Fitness to build studios connected to two of its locations.

Incorporating a fitness element is a savvy move for retailers. Athleisure brands have recently learned this with new store designs based on fitness and other wellness experiences.

Lululemon’s two new stores, for example — in Chicago and the Mall of America in Minnesota — have become hybrid boutique fitness studios and are outfitted with lockers and a cafe. What sets them apart from regular apparel shops is that customers can test out gear while taking a class. And after you sweat in something, there’s a good chance you’ll buy it, right?

We’re expecting that more retailers across sectors will use fitness and other wellness perks as a shopping hook in 2020. What’s next? Taking a Barre class while you wait to get a prescription filled?

For feedback or news tips, reach out via email at [email protected] or tweet me @lesliebarrie.

— Leslie Barrie, Wellness Editor


Grocery Stores Want to Entice Customers with Workouts: Come for the groceries, stay for the fitness classes. That’s the tactic some supermarkets in this wellness-obsessed era are using to pull in customers. ShopRite, for one, opened a studio attached to a New Jersey location, offering yoga and Zumba to loyalty card holders. Meanwhile, Hy-Vee partnered with Orangetheory Fitness. We’ll likely only see more fitness studio-grocer pairings to come. Read more here.

Lululemon Goes All In on Experiential Mall of America Store: Proving that brick-and-mortar retail isn’t completely dead, Lululemon has invested in two new experiential-focused stores: one in Chicago’s Lincoln Park and the other at the Mall of America in Minnesota. The Mall of America location comes complete with locker rooms, yoga and fitness studios, a meditation room, and a fuel bar. It’s a smart way to get customers in the door and build brand loyalty. It could also become a model for its other outposts. Read more here.


Tech Targets Jet Lag for Weary Travelers: Jet lag is one of the most common complaints among travelers. But the Timeshifter app is looking to tackle that pain point and help people better adjust to a shift in time zones. United Airlines, for example, has partnered with Timeshifter so that the airline’s MileagePlus members have free access to the app. Also, Qantas is currently conducting research so that it can help passengers on the New York-to-Sydney flight better adjust to the new time zones. Good luck with that, mate. Read more here.

The Definition of Wellness Travel Is Expanding: Five years ago, a wellness retreat might involve a spa, high-end cuisine, a few exercise classes, and perhaps a massage or two. Now the industry is looking to offer more niche wellness trips to appeal to an even wider audience, whether it’s a restorative sleep-themed getaway to Bad Ragaz, Switzerland, or a musical therapy — yes, that’s now a thing — retreat in Hua Hin, Thailand. Read more here.


New FDA Warning Casts Shadows on CBD Industry: The FDA took a stance on CBD, which was a bit of a buzzkill for the industry. Even though CBD oils and creams will be on a lot of holiday lists this year, statements in the letter such as “CBD has the potential to harm you…” and “CBD can cause side effects which you might notice…” has put the industry in a tough place heading into this important shopping season. Read more here.


SoulCycle’s CEO Has Stepped Down: It seems like SoulCycle needs a new leader for a new era. CEO Melanie Whelan has resigned after an eight-year run with the company. It makes sense to bring in a new CEO who can help the company figure out a way to compete with Peloton other than by moving into wellness retreats. Perhaps it will try and relaunch its streaming spin service now that dust from the Trump fundraiser has somewhat settled. Read more here.

Skift Wellness Editor Leslie Barrie [[email protected]] curates the Skift Wellness newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Thursday.

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Tags: Skift Wellness, wellness

Photo credit: A Whole Foods is shown. Supermarkets are incorporating workout perks into their stores to draw in customers. @jeepersmedia / Flickr

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