Why Retailers Are Moving Toward Smaller High Street Spaces

Within high street retail, there has been a tendency toward largeness of space. The benefits of larger store space, despite their cost, were generally preferred by retailers. Being able to display a wider variety of products, for example, means that a store can be a one-stop experience for customers, with certainty that there will be the right product available. High street retailers have also considered their visual presence, with larger stores benefiting their brand through sheer size and proximity.


However, there are a number of major retailers that are now seeking to move away from traditional, large retail spaces. Instead, familiar brands like John Lewis and Macy’s are opening smaller stores across a greater number of high street locations. At first, this may seem counterintuitive, but the decision is actually becoming better appreciated, with other brands following suit. Here are the reasons why.




Rising prices are not limited to households and retailers are also facing unfavourable and unsustainable rental and energy prices. As a result, retailers are scaling back, seeking out dynamic, flexible, and more refined shop spaces. These efficient concepts make use of improved design, focussing on hero products and modular shop shelving such as slatwall, which projects a more easily curated quality experience for shoppers and retailers alike.


Digital Sales


One of the main benefits of larger brick and mortar shopfronts is the potential for product capacity, both on the shop floor and in a stockroom. While reducing store size may seem to compromise this, digital sales and online platforms have already begun to reduce the need for storage space by hybridising the sales experience.


More often, retailers are using their store spaces as experience focused fronts, promoting the brand and product while offering online purchasing, home delivery, and click and collect services, all of which can be done from a much smaller retail space.




Smaller stores are easier to manage, both with products and sales representatives. Aside from the obvious cost-saving aspects of smaller teams, daily logistics become much more easily overseen too, with staff able to better curate and represent their local retail space.


Additionally, the prospect of events becomes easier too, despite having less space within which to operate. Retailers have a greater deal of flexibility by being able to host more regular events and pop-ups, all without needing to consider the cost of equipment needed to fill a larger venue.




Larger retailer venues are more difficult to come by and require considerable investment, which means retailers are only able to secure a few sites that they can assure will be successful. Smaller venues, on the other hand, are more readily available and can be chosen in very specific locations that support retailers to reach key customers. Smaller stores also pose less risk when brands wish to establish themselves in new areas, encouraging businesses to expand beyond the security of larger retailer sites.




The improvements made within retail technology have enabled retailers to significantly downsize their stores too. Checkouts, for example, no longer require large till systems and can otherwise be replaced with digital pads and contactless transaction points.