Health, Fitness and Wellness: Heritage retailers want you to work out in store

Saks Wellery - Image courtesy of Justin Bridges Photography (PRNewsfoto/Saks Fifth Avenue)

Saks Fifth Avenue has become the latest department store to seek growth through new, non-traditional areas with the opening of The Wellery concept shop.

Just as it reported fewer shoppers in its stores during its most recent reporting period, it unveiled the first-of-its-kind space offering over 16,000 square feet of immersive experiences dedicated to wellness.

Health, wellness and fitness have become the new frontier for retailers that previously focused on fashion and beauty with the earlier Selfridges Body Studio, which opened in 2016, targeting a similar consumer mindset and lifestyle.

The Body Studio in London is unique concept that offers up everything from a Hemsley and Hemsley food cafe, to a Fit Studio (which measures you for the perfect fit bra size). This wellness offering is a smart move for heritage retailers to stay relevant to a younger, Millennial consumer – who is concerned with bettering themselves both on the outside (leggings, sneakers etc) and on the inside (green juice, matcha, almond milk).

Health, Fitness and Wellness: Wellery concept shop in Saks, NY

Health, Fitness and Wellness: Wellery concept shop at Saks

“It makes sense for retailers to be focused on health, fitness and wellness,” says Jackie Chiquoine, WGSN associate editor of retail intelligence, and author of our 2016 Report Selling Health: Wellness Retail Strategies (subscribers can check it out here). “The fastest growing retail categories in 2015 were related to health and wellness, according to market research firm NPD Group. Millennials are driving the shift towards active and tech-focused lifestyles, as well as the rise in experiential retail. According to a study by JWT Intelligence, 50% of US and 47% of UK Millennials claimed they were more likely to visit a store that offered athletic facilities, so this move to wellness retail meets the consumer right where they are, in pursuit of healthier lifestyle choices,” she added.

Health, Fitness and Wellness: Wellery at Saks 5th avenue store

Health, Fitness and Wellness: Wellery at Saks 5th avenue

The new Saks offer is located on the second floor of the retailer’s New York City Fifth Avenue flagship and serves up a curated edit of the products, classes and services “for living a healthier and more balanced life.”

Like some other department store concept initiatives, it’s not permanent and will be open until the end of October, although Saks will clearly be learning lessons from the consumer response and applying them to its product mix in the future.

So what do shoppers/visitors actually get there? A “lifestyle-centric shopping destination for today’s experience-seeking consumer,” the company said. In practice that means 22 individual spaces offering fitness classes and equipment, women’s and men’s activewear and athleisure lines, and skincare products and treatments, thus neatly mixing the fashion and beauty elements .Saks knows so well into he new concept

A dedicated Saks Wellery concierge is available on-site to direct customers, or help them determine which offerings best suit their wellness needs. The Saks Studio space will host rotating pop-up classes and events from some of NYC’s most interesting gyms and fitness programmes.

And it’s an impressive line-up. Participants include ConBody, a prison-style boot camp using only the exerciser’s body weight, and Bendable Body, a specialised stretching method that works on connective tissue. The Saks Studio space will feature rotating pop-up classes from several local companies beginning May 13. MNDFL offers meditation classes and the instructors at modelFIT teach class-goers “how to move with strength and grace through daily activities.” In addition to fitness classes, the Saks Studio will host wellness-focused events, including reiki healing, meditation, massages, and more.

Shoppers can also visit Breathe Salt Rooms to experience dry salt therapy, then grab a hydrogen-infused HFactor water for the road. SKINNEY MedSpa offers services including non-invasive body contouring and hi-tech facials, and Sundays nail studio specialises in two-in-one manicures with meditation.

There will also be home gym equipment in showrooms from Technogym, Peloton, and Martone Cycling Co. New York City’s Drive 495, a luxury fitness boutique, offers customised stretching and workout routines aimed at helping clients achieve athletic goals, as well as custom golf club fittings for PXG’s innovative club technology.

Heroine Sport, Phat Buddha, Beyond Yoga, S’well, and Alala are a few of the brands featured in the activewear shop.

As you can see, it’s a big commitment but the company’s used to big gestures, having built an indoor ski slope in the flagship store to offer skiing lessons as far back as 1935. Chief Merchant Tracy Margolies said: “We want the Saks Wellery to be a sanctuary for our customers, a place to find peace and solace in the middle of our bustling city.”

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