What else could you do to make the most out of a grocery trip? The answer is workout! Yes, you heard it right. Hy-Vee, an originally Iowa-based supermarket chain, is teaming up with high-intensity training gym OrangeTheory to build studios attached to two of its stores. This is a long-planned move of Hy-vee’s move comes as the brand keeps pace against their competitors. For example, in New Jersey, ShopRite opened a store with a fitness studio and Whole Foods’ flagship store in Austin partners with a variety of local studios for classes on its rooftop plaza.
As competition in the grocery industry stiffens, these stores hope to attract time-strapped shoppers by creating convenient experiences that cannot be replicated online. Grocery stores see an opening in the surging fitness industry, one of the rare business areas that has not been cannibalized by Amazon.
“Grocers are understanding that to bring people back in store they must create these activities,” says Jamie Sabat, Director of Trends and Consumer Forecasting at consulting firm Streetsense. “They want to create this hangout factor in the store.”
Although grocery tie-ups with fitness companies are still in pilot stages, bringing on gyms can make sense in the long run for for health-oriented grocers. Sabat predicts that H-E-B or Meijer may add a fitness-related concept in the future. In fact, H-E-B, the cult-favorite in Texas, already sponsors free yoga in some of its stores.
Experts say grocers have also stepped up their focus on catering to customers’ health demands in recent years. Supermarkets are adding juice bars and health clinics and bringing dieticians into stores.
According to CNN, Hy-Vee’s experiment with OrangeTheory is a model for other retailers. Hy-Vee and OrangeTheory are testing out studios attached to a full-size Hy-Vee supermarket in Shakopee, Minnesota, as well as a “HealthMarket,” a slimmed-down Hy-Vee store. The store also offers nitro coffee, kombucha and Bevi-infused water.
“We are constantly looking for new partners and innovations that will appeal to our customers and their ever-changing lifestyles,” says Hy-Vee CEO Randy Edeker.
Grocers are not alone in turning to the fitness industry for growth. Malls and brick-and-mortar retailers are betting on gyms and boutique studios to win over their shoppers.
According to CoStar, the number of fitness tenants in shopping centers has doubled over the last decade. Traditional retailers such as Kohl’s joined with Planet Fitness to add gyms adjacent to a handful of stores. Planet Fitness offers insight into why companies are eager to bring on fitness clubs: The chain says that when its members go to the gym, 76 percent of them combine their visits with other shopping.