The Wellness Industry is Driving Development


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New developments increasingly will feature wellness components, as more businesses aim to serve customers’ pursuit of holistic health, according to new research. The global wellness development industry grew an average of 22% from 2017 to 2020, expanding from $148 billion in 2017 to $225 billion in 2019 to $275 billion in 2020, according to the Global Wellness Institute.


GWI defines wellness projects as residential, office, mixed-use/multifamily, medical and leisure developments that incorporate intentional wellness elements in their design, materials, building, amenities, services and/or programming.


Consumers and real estate developers already were embracing wellness before the pandemic. The dollar value of wellness real estate projects grew 23% each year from 2017 to 2019, compared with 5.4% growth for developments overall. This disparity occurred in every global region. The pandemic further fueled the shift. From 2019 to 2020, the dollar value of wellness real estate projects continued to grow by more than 22% a year, even as the dollar value of overall construction shrank by 2.5%.


“Just three years ago, wellness real estate was a concept not well understood by consumers, builders, developers or investors, but we predicted demand would soon hit like a tsunami. That moment has arrived,” said GWI senior research fellow Ophelia Yeung.


Seven countries — the U.S., China, Australia, the U.K., Japan, France and Germany — account for 82% of the wellness development market; the U.S. and China alone comprise roughly 60%. From 2017 to 2020, Japan grew 360% and Canada 240%. The U.S., China, the U.K., France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Singapore, Norway, Italy and Finland essentially doubled their markets.


Source: 2021 ICSC.

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