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Putting wellness into hands of customers

BY Antoinette Alexander

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. At least that’s what retailer Whole Foods is banking on with its test run of "Wellness Clubs."

(THE NEWS: Whole Foods commences test run of Wellness Clubs. For the full story, click here)

And if the Whole Foods initiative proves successful, you can expect to see more of these consumer-directed health models to develop. The Whole Foods Market Wellness Club concept, which is being tested in five locations, is designed to help customers take their well-being to the next level through education, cooking, coaching and a support structure aimed at ensuring long-term success. Plus, members receive a 10% discount on a wide variety of healthy foods.

If the Whole Foods pilot works, it could suggest that Americans — at least wealthier shoppers who can afford to shop at Whole Foods — are willing to spend from their own pocket to stay healthy. The initiation and monthly fees will vary by location. The first Wellness Club opened Aug. 15 at the Dedham, Mass. Whole Foods and customers can buy into that club for a $199 one-time fee and a $45 per-month membership fee. In September, Whole Foods is planning to open Wellness Clubs in stores in Chicago and Oakland, Calif. In October, one is slated to open in New York and Princeton, N.J., in November.

As mentioned earlier, if the test concept is successful the industry can expect to see more consumer-directed health models develop.

Obviously, there are some models already in play (i.e., Hannaford’s free dietitian-led nutrition classes across New England, ShopRite’s onsite registered dietitians within select stores and RediClinic’s new Weigh Forward medically-supervised weight-loss program) but there undoubtedly are additional opportunities on the horizon for more bundled, consumer-directed concepts.

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Walgreens’ comps garner positive numbers in August

BY Allison Cerra

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens saw a 7.8% sales gain during August, the retailer reported Tuesday.

Total front-end sales increased 6.8% in August and basket size increased 2.3%, Walgreens said.

Comparable-store sales rose across the board — thanks to positive calendar day shifts — including a 2.5% increase in customer traffic at comparable stores, a 4.8% increase in comparable total front-end sales, a 6.1% rise in comparable pharmacy sales and a 5.2% increase in prescriptions filled at comparable stores. Overall, sales in comparable stores (those open at least a year) increased 5.6%.

The retailer reported that flu shots administered season-to-date at pharmacies and clinics totaled more than 300,000.

Walgreens noted that Hurricane Irene had no significant net effect on total sales.

For the month, Walgreens opened 21 stores, including three relocations, acquired three stores and closed three, for a net increase of 18 in the month.

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Weis kicks off annual hunger relief campaign

BY Allison Cerra

SUNBURY, Pa. — Weis is highlighting hunger relief with its fourth annual, month-long campaign that encourages customers to donate shelf-stable products and make monetary donations to local food banks and emergency food providers.

For its annual Fight Hunger Food Drive, Weis said that customers may contribute to hunger relief efforts in the following ways:

  • Donate such shelf-stable items as cereal, apple sauce, pasta, granola bars, 100% fruit juice, canned foods (i.e., beans, chicken, fish, etc.) and more;

  • Donating $3, $5 and/or $10 vouchers, which can be purchased at any Weis cash register. All of the proceeds will be given to area food banks in the form of gift card donations; and

  • A convenient prefilled Fight Hunger Donation Bag also will be available at stores, containing pasta, sauce, fruit, vegetables, tuna, cereal and soup — all for less than $10.

Weis said that as part of its campaign, which runs through Oct. 1, the retailer will match its customer donations with a $200,000 corporate donation. The program will run across stores in in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, West Virginia and New York.

"The demand for food bank services continues to grow and we want to help," Weis president and CEO David Hepfinger said. "Our Fight Hunger Food Drive gives our customers and associates a simple and effective way to support twelve food banks and the hundreds of emergency food providers they serve. We will also complement our customers’ generosity with donations of our own."

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