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Maximizing the use of space in your retail store is fundamental for aesthetic and functional reasons. Customers want to navigate your store easily and may revolt if your space looks so small that it appears your store has less to offer. If you are building or remodeling a small retail store, here are six tips on strategic planning and designing the build-out to maximize space.

1. Utilize Effective Lighting

You want your store to be well-lit and feel welcoming for customers to stay and shop in. If your store has large windows, natural light helps showcase your merchandise, creates a welcoming environment, and even saves energy costs. The lighting should be the correct brightness and color, which varies depending on the type of merchandise and ambiance you want to create.

Use accent lights for items that need to stand out, while general lighting provides uniform illumination throughout the store. When planning your lighting design, opt for bright lights that are not too harsh and have adjustable dimmers.

2. Use the Countertop Space

You can encourage impulse buying by placing items that easily upsell with the correct merchandising display. A good example of this strategy is supermarkets. Most grocery stores use checkouts to display items people frequently buy, such as candy and gift cards. You can do the same in your retail store by using countertop display units at checkout points. Make sure you plan the focal point well, giving it enough space and surrounding it with complementary products for added appeal. Effective focal points can be large product displays, big-screen displays, or signage.

3. Focus On Traffic Flow

A good traffic flow throughout the store will encourage customers to move around your space, explore your merchandise, and keep them from getting overwhelmed or disoriented. One effective approach is to guide them clockwise with the store’s layout and make moving from one section to another easy. Working with companies like I-5 Design Build can help optimize the store’s layout and design to give customers a positive shopping experience.

4. Utilize Vertical and Wall Space

Maximizing your retail space means utilizing all the available space, not just the floor. That is where vertical and wall space comes into play. Use your walls to display products. For example, hanging shelves are perfect for smaller items, while larger items could do well with wall-mounted hooks. Vertical space can also be utilized by adding loft floors or mezzanines where you can display items or even utilize them as a workspace for employees. Create a visually engaging display that encourages customers to look up and down, not just straight ahead.

5. Make Flexibility a Priority

Retailers must be able to adjust their store design and layout as needed. It is vital to have removable walls or modular display fixtures to switch up your product lines quickly and easily. Having movable fixtures and displays allows for a great change in product positioning, making your retail space always fresh and new. Having modular and movable fixtures, displays, or even mannequins means you can easily change or rearrange your space. You can have different layouts throughout different times of the year or holidays.

6. Keep Your Space Organized

An organized store layout helps customers locate merchandise easily and quickly while creating a sense of neatness and cleanliness. This means regularly dusting and cleaning shelves, keeping products neatly arranged, and regularly restocking items running low. Keeping back stock offsite or in a designated area helps keep inventory organized, making restocking easier.


Planning and designing your retail store layout is no easy feat, but many small business owners do it themselves successfully. Take it slow, follow the tips above, and always put the customer first. A well-designed retail space can drive sales and customer satisfaction, while a poorly designed one can result in lost sales and unhappy customers.