Wegmans Closes Babysitting Sector and Opens New Kid Program
BUFFALO, NY - Wegmans will be closing its last Wkids location in the Amherst region at its store on Alberta Drive. The retailer said it wants to encourage families to shop together and aim attention on programs that parents can do with their kids, such as in-store yoga and cooking classes, according to The Buffalo News.
“Stores want to get children out into the aisles with their families, where they can learn lessons about healthy eating and actively participate in the ritual of food shopping,” said Burt P. Flickinger III, a Buffalo native and Managing Director at retail consultant Strategic Resource Group in New York City.
Parents and caregivers used to be able to drop the children off at a free baby-sitting area called Wkids and shop interruption free. However, Wegmans officials said the service has been offered for decades and barely used, so the retailer will use the Wkids space for other purposes.
"The world's changed," Flickinger said. "The children want to learn to shop."
An industry expert stated this is expected to happen as other grocery chains that offer in-store child care services and children's play areas are shutting their services down as well.
The chain has sent out a letter to parents in recent weeks who regularly drop off their kids at Alberta Drive.
When this Wkids location closes, just two stores in the Rochester area and four in Pennsylvania will have them.
Wegmans now wants to emphasize Family Experience programs. The programs include: kid-friendly movie nights, kids' cooking classes and yoga sessions, special events for Mother's Day and other holidays, story times, and painting nights.
"Certainly we’re finding space in our current store footprint to bring more services that are now in greater demand," said Michele Mehaffy, Consumer Affairs Manager in Buffalo. "Of course, these happen to be services that many families use. To be honest, the number of families using the Wkids service has steadily declined over the past several years."
The retailer is looking to appease shoppers by using the new space for larger café seating areas.
How will the chain proceed once it closes its last Wkids space? Keep checking back with AndNowUKnow for updates.