How your New Year’s resolution affects local businesses

01/12/2016 12:00 PM |

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It seems that once the ball drops and Jan. 1 rolls around, people run to the gym using the mantra “New year, new me” as inspiration to get in shape.

Everyone can observe resolution-makers crowding the elliptical machines for a few weeks, but what does the start of a new year mean for the owners and managers of these gyms? And how do other businesses — like bars, restaurants and bakeries — fare as people commit to eating healthier and budgeting their money better?

“This definitely is our prime time,” said Gillian Garjiulo, general manager at Maximum Health and Fitness in Riverhead. She said the influx of customers lasts only a few weeks and tapers off by February.

According to a 2015 study conducted by the Wall Street Journal, fitness center attendance can begin to noticeably decline as early as the third week of January. Additionally, the study found, Facebook check-ins at locations with “health” or “fitness” in their name drops by 10 percent in February.

Ms. Garjiulo said that in order to prepare for the increase of January gym-goers — something she compared to the craze of Black Friday — by adding staff to the East Main Street facility.

“We always put on a little extra classes and have more personal trainers available for the newer people that don’t really know what they’re doing — so that they’re guided and they can achieve their goals,” she said. “We have great promotions too, so that it’s cost-effective for people.”

Sarah Sirico, owner of Fitness Advantage in Southold, said she makes similar changes in staffing to prepare for an influx of members and aims to makes employees more available to clients.

“We make time to meet with new members who aren’t sure where to start and we work to accommodate existing members with health-related goals in the new year,” she said. “This month we are inviting all members to join our team ‘Southold Strong,’ an online wellness program where we all work as a team to make healthier behavioral changes.”

Both Andrea Esposito, owner of North Fork Wellness Center in Cutchogue, and Jesse Swenk, owner of Defined Health and Fitness in Wading River, said staff members at each location make personal calls to gym members if they haven’t shown up in a while to make sure they’re OK and to help them get back on track. They said this tactic helps ensure business is constant throughout the year.

“We have a very small percentage of people that fall off,” Ms. Esposito said.

While gyms reap the benefits of people’s desire to get healthy, other local businesses — such as restaurants, bars and bakeries — experience a decline in sales as people decide to eat healthier and spend less money after the budget-busting holidays.

“We’re fortunate enough that we have a lot of healthier options … So when people come in and are looking to eat healthier it’s not a big deal,” said Ross Cummings, manager of Dark Horse Restaurant in Riverhead. “Overall, though, I do think people tend to stay away [in January]. But I think it’s more so because of the money aspect than the ‘Let’s eat healthy’ aspect.”

Mr. Cummings and Tina Kontoveros, a server at CJ’s American Grill in Mattituck, both said business tends to rise again in March — about one month after most people abandon their fitness resolutions. CJ’s offers winter specials in an effort to draw in more customers.

Blue Duck Bakery, which has locations in Riverhead, Southold, Greenport and Southampton, cuts down on production during the month of January as business declines, said co-owner Keith Kouris. He said sales  picks up by Super Bowl Sunday.

“[In January] we do cut back our production and scale back what we’re using, as far as the amount,” Mr. Kouris said. “We also try and promote some of the healthier things, like a lot of our breads. They’re all natural and have no GMOs, just great ingredients. So we try and push that part of the bakery spectrum.”

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Photo credit: .v1ctor Casale. via VisualHunt.com

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