“We were really fascinated by the sector because when you look at retail I think you can almost split it into three groups: There were essential retailers that were well aligned with key trends and they did incredibly well, there were non-essential retailers that were not well aligned with key trends–so if I sell suits or tuxedos, this wasn't a great time for me. And then there were non-essential retailers that were well-aligned and I would put those supplement players within that category in that health and wellness became a really big focus. We started caring a lot about what we're putting into our body. How we prevent getting sick, a real emphasis on those elements,” said Chernofsky. “At the same time, they weren't benefiting from the wide-open retail environment that would normally bring them tremendous value. So the real question for us was, is this a segment that's bouncing back fueled by those same positive trends?”
To find out, Placer.ai, took a look at foot traffic between 2019-2021. According to the report, supplement sales rose during the pandemic, however the number of visitors to the Vitamin Shoppe and GNC stores dropped dramatically in April 2020–67% and 76% respectively–as stores closed throughout the country.
“I think what was really fascinating for us, is when we look at the brands that have recovered the fastest, they have been very true to themselves, they really understand what they provide to their audience and they're not trying to be something else. In many cases, they're evolving, but they're evolving from a foundation of strength,” said Chernofsky. “So I think any retailer whether it's GNC or Target or Dunkin Donuts, it's about do you understand what makes you special in the eyes of your audience and know how to provide that?”
To hear more on Pacer.ai’s report and if Chernofsky expects a full recovery, listen to the NutraCast.
NutraCast is a podcast that focuses on insights from inside the nutrition industry. It is a production by NutraIngredients-USA. Music by Kevin Macleod.