In the retail world, small is the new big. At least among some retailers in the marketplace, as more companies are opting to open smaller, often urban-based, locations to increase their businesses.
The strategy is being employed by some big players, too. A recent article in Time highlights how Ace Hardware, Cabela’s and Walmart are evolving by going smaller.
After years operating enormous big boxes (and watching competitor Circuit City go under), Best Buy is focusing on its smaller Mobile format. Department store operator JCPenney is betting its future on store formats that house multiple, small shop-in-shops for such brands as Sephora, Liz Claiborne, Izod and Levi’s. Some of those shops, including Levi’s, I jeans by Buffalo and The Original Arizona Jean Co., will hit 700 JCPenney locations in early August, while the next round of shops is expected to open September 1.
And just last week, big-box retailer Target opened the doors to its first-ever urban store format, CityTarget, in Seattle, Los Angeles and Chicago. “We knew our urban guest had a strong affinity for Target but they were having to drive out to the suburban store,” Mark Schindele, Target’s senior vp, merchandising, told the Chicago Tribune. “So we wanted to bring the Target experience into the city center.”
Target’s new slimmed-down format is about two-thirds the size of a typical Target at roughly 124,000 square feet. While the merchandise mix is similar, the Tribune reports that the store spans multiple levels with smaller check-out stations and two-tiered shopping carts.
As retailers follow the flow of consumers returning to the urban core, they’ll need to perfect the right balance of merchandise mix and selling experience to keep urbanites happy.
I look forward to checking out the new CityTarget in September when VMSD’s IRDC heads to Chicago, September 5-7. You can also get insight on these new urban strategies and the challenges of going smaller on Thursday, Sept. 6, during the IRDC session, “Smaller Box, Big City: New Branding Strategies for Urban “Big” Boxes,” presented by Eames Gilmore, architectural design manager at Target, and Brian Fleener, vp, retail stores development at MulvannyG2 (Bellevue, Wash.).