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Making The Most Out Of Your Retail Space

By Maria Hickey on July 17th, 2022

Small retail shops still sit at the heart of any local community, just as they have for the past 200 years.

Despite struggling to compete with big brand name stores for decades, many small retail shops have shown they have the resilience and staying power to weather the storms that have been the downfall of some big-name commercial retailers in recent years.

Running a successful small retail shop needs a careful balance of offering what customers want and making them feel safe, secure and relaxed. At the same time, you must ensure they enjoy their shopping experience while you are covered by the best retail shop insurance available.

The tide is now changing, with consumers preferring to shop locally rather than patronise big-name chain stores, but what does a small, independent retail shop owner need to do to keep customers walking through their doors?

Why Is It Important To Make The Most Out Of My Retail Space?

To keep your customers happy and engaged, you must create a welcoming space where people will find it easy to navigate and shop.

While it makes sense to have a well-planned layout where your customers can move around comfortably without tripping over awkwardly placed displays or stock shelving that is too high for them to reach, you also need to optimise your store layout to make sure your floor space is working for you.

Customers will quickly leave and shop elsewhere, if they walk into your premises and feel overwhelmed or confused by the layout of your shop. If there are narrow aisle ends or bottlenecks around your shop, this will make your customers more reluctant to spend time browsing your shelves.

How Can I Make My Retail Space More Attractive?

There are many ways to optimise your shop layout and create enticing in-store displays that will encourage curious customers over your threshold. The trick is to create eye-catching displays that combine a good level of convenience for your customers.

For example, if you sell seasonal goods such as Halloween products, you can create a fantastic aisle or corner of your shop dedicated to Halloween.

Stock and display all of your Halloween goods in one easy-to-access space so your customers can pick up everything they need in one go and be tempted to buy extra bits and pieces from your range simultaneously.

Create Eye-Catching Shop Windows

Eye-catching window displays have always attracted customers to shops. The big-name commercial retailers caught onto this years ago, and even hired dedicated window shop dressers solely to create jaw-dropping window displays.

Even if you don’t have the window breadth or depth available to retail chain stores, you can still create a little piece of themed magic in your shop window.

The changing seasons offer plenty of inspiration for refreshing your window displays. It is also quite common for local trade and commerce organisations to promote window display campaigns and competitions at Christmas to engage the local community and encourage them into town.

But your window displays can be one of your most valuable tools. It is a low-cost and fun way to market your shop to the local community. All it needs is a little imagination and creativity to develop new, eye-catching shop window displays that keep local customers curious and keen to shop with you.

Use your window to tell a visual story, but work with themes where you can use your products to inspire your customers and encourage them inside to buy.

Use Colours To Make Your Shop Seem Lighter

One issue that many older retail shops have is they can often be long, narrow, and poorly lit. If the only source of natural daylight in your shop is through the front window, you can brighten up your interiors by using light-coloured wall paints and decorations.

Adding extra lighting can help brighten up gloomy corners and enable customers to see your products better, especially those with poor sight. Mirrors can help reflect light and make a narrow space feel more open and bright.

Create Point of Purchase Displays

Take a tip from leading supermarket specialists and create focal product displays close to your tills. There is a reason why supermarkets place racks of confectionary and small, inexpensive products right by the till – to tempt customers into buying little extras while they wait to pay for their goods.

Having a small retail shop with low square footage means you have to get creative with what space you have available, including adding shelves or racking by your till.

Don’t Overcrowd Each Area

As mentioned earlier, your shop layout is essential; you mustn’t create bottlenecks or overcrowded areas.

If your shop sells a few evergreen popular products that are a staple for your business, it can help to space them apart around your shop rather than display them next to each other.

Break Your Areas & Departments Up

It makes sense to divide your shop into relevant sections where your customers can expect to find the things they are looking for. For example, if you sell seasonal home barbecues for the summer, your customers expect to see everything they need in one space, such as barbecue coals, firelighters and matches.

Your customer will find it frustrating to pick up a barbecue and then walk to another part of your shop to pick up a box of matches.

Create A Simple Path To Follow

Take a tip from IKEA and create a simple path around your shop for your customers to follow. Although your shop doesn’t have the square footage of an average IKEA store, you can still maximise your floor space and product displays by creating a path that takes in all your shelves and displays before reaching the till.

How Can I Improve The Outside Of My Shop?

You may have the most fantastic retail shop that is a perfect fit for your local community but never forget about the front of your shop. First impressions really do count in retail, so make sure your shop front is clean and presentable.

Obviously, an eye-catching window display will be a big draw for your shop, but if the paintwork is faded and flaking and your windows are cracked or dirty, it will put customers off going inside. Tidy up the paintwork. Use welcoming colours that tie into your brand. Make necessary repairs and keep your windows clean.

If you have the available pavement space, you can add hanging baskets or window boxes to make your shop exterior more attractive. A colourful chalk sandwich board can be great for creating fun messages or highlighting special offers you have in-store.

It can also help to keep your front door open whenever possible. More customers will be keen to wander in for a browse when your shop door is open.


You can be creative and clever with your retail shop to make it stand out from the crowd and tempt more people over your doorstep. It doesn’t need to cost a fortune to spruce up your shop and make it a more desirable place for your customers to shop.

Don’t forget that protecting your shop with the right retail insurance cover is one of the easiest things you can do. And you can save money by comparing business insurance quotes with Brisco Business.

Maria Hickey

For more than 20 years, Maria has worked in the insurance sector and has extensive underwriting and customer service expertise. Maria is an experienced Senior Underwriter with a particular specialism for shop, office and surgery related insurance.

All articles by Maria Hickey

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