Last Friday afternoon I was in a Seattle area Lululemon store checking out some spring-season tank tops, and was pleasantly shocked at how crowded the store was. It was hard to maneuver around all the shoppers, and at times, you had to wait for people to move away before you could check out merchandise hanging on the rack or stored in size-specific bins.
Sadly for shoppers (but not the store), all 4 of the dressing rooms were in constant use, resulting in at least a 15-minute wait to try on apparel for size and fit. As a testament to Lululemon brand loyalty, almost everyone waited patiently in line for a dressing room rather than go elsewhere. (There is at least one other yoga apparel store at this location, so people have other options within a 5‑minute walk.)
Most of the bins for pants and crops in my size were empty, and the same was true for tops and tanks. I overhead one sales person tell a shopper that they replenish their merchandise on a weekly basis.
Another positive sign, the cashiers’ lines were busy; lots of people were buying. Clearly this store doesn’t suffer from shoppers muttering, “Sorry, just looking…” And as everyone knows, yoga wear with Lululemon’s brand is definitely not inexpensive.
As another indicator of consumer confidence and this brand’s appeal, the shop was loaded with men and women across a surprisingly broad range of ages and body types. Yes, the store was packed with teenage girls checking out the latest hoodies, but also with boomer women trying on yoga crops or tops, guys looking at running gear, and men buying gifts for wives and daughters.
There was a lovely buzz in the store. It made me hopeful that this region is starting to rebound from its long slump.
On the other hand, one of my more cynical friends said that people aren’t shopping generally; they just find it easier to rationalize investments in “wellness lifestyle” aids. And if that’s the case Lululemon is certainly benefiting, at least here in the Seattle area.