Choose one of these 4 resale store layout designs

September 15, 2019

4 store layout designs to increase sales

Think about one of your favorite shopping excursions. Mine was in Chicago where we roamed the streets of Wicker Park and Bucktown. Many of the boutiques were intimate and inviting. We wandered all day in the rain and loved it. It was a shopper’s delight and I spent more money than I should have. Interestingly, the physical layout of your store determines how long shoppers linger and how much they subsequently purchase. Knowing the correct way to direct them through the aisles means higher sales at the register. Here are the pros and cons of 4 different forms of resale store layout.


Free Form is one of the resale store layout designsMany boutiques or small independent shops under 5,000 square feet use what’s called the “Free Form” layout. A free-form layout provides an intimate, relaxing environment. However, it can also be an expensive use of floor space.

ADVANTAGES    •    Allows for browsing      •      Increased impulse purchases     •        Visual appeal        •       Flexibility

DISADVANTAGES    •    Can be more costly to implement         Waste of floor space          Possibility of confusion       Difficulty cleaning

Because there isn’t a well-defined traffic pattern with the Free Form layout, customers are not naturally drawn through the store. Your salespeople and their selling skills are what makes this resale store layout work.


Grid layout is the second design for a resale store layout

Grocery stores use the “Grid” layout. Merchandise displays on shelves on both sides of the aisles. If you’re dealing with over 6,000 square feet this is an inexpensive option. I have seen it used in retail shops such as Tuesday Morning and many Goodwill stores. An advantage is more merchandise can be placed on the sales floor, but it isn’t very visually appealing.

ADVANTAGES    •    Low cost fixtures   •    Customer familiarity    •    Large merchandise exposure    •    Ease of cleaning

DISADVANTAGES    •    Limits browsing    •    Decor is uninteresting    •   Encourages rushed shopping behavior

This is a classic design where the “butt-brush” effect (a term developed by Paco Underhill, a consumer behavior specialist, occurs. Shoppers, particularly women, avoid merchandise in an aisle where they feel their backsides may be brushed or touched. Generally, 4′ wide aisles are recommended. Follow the ADA Guidelines for aisle width. Read 3 steps to avoid “Consignment Tunnel Vision” to get a better view of  your current store if you’re already open.


The loop or racetrack layout is an interesting resale store design

Kohl’s is a great example of a store that uses the “Loop or racetrack” layout. It offers a clearly defined main aisle that loops around the store with fixtures in the middle running parallel to the side walls.

ADVANTAGES    •    Maximum merchandise exposure    •   Increased impulse purchases    •    Ease of shopping   •   Encourages exploration

DISADVANTAGES    •    Often requires more walking    •    Defining departments can be costly    •    Customers can become overwhelmed

In order for customers to keep moving, define different departments with a change in color, flooring, signage or lighting.


The 4th design for a resale store layout is the Spine

The “Spine” layout is a variation of the first three. It’s based on a single main aisle running from the front of the store to the back. Specialty stores between 2,000 and 10,000 square feet in size use this layout.  To facilitate movement from one location to the next, change the flooring in different departments.

ADVANTAGES    •   Effective use of space    •     Encourages browsing    •   Good view of entire sales floor     

DISADVANTAGES     •    Variety of fixtures can be costly    •    Getting shoppers off the main aisle requires creativity   •   Difficulty cleaning

Unfortunately, if not planned appropriately, shoppers feel “trapped” once they’re in the back of a shop using the Spine layout. In order for shoppers to feel comfortable, put larger spaces between fixtures.

Overall store layout tips

Creating a comfortable atmosphere where shoppers want to linger is a challenge. If at all possible, your store layout should lead shoppers to the right once they’ve entered. Studies show people naturally look to the left upon entering, but move to the right. Shoppers prefer to walk counterclockwise too. Use a wider aisle to the right and you’ll encourage them to move in that direction. Whichever layout you ultimately choose, convey your store’s brand in the design, type of fixtures, wall and floor colors, lighting and signage. To make shoppers feel relaxed and interested in opening their wallets, pull your store layout design together in one seamless package.

If you enjoyed reading this, read How to improve store design with 6 quick and easy changes.

Click here for a printable version of “Has your shop avoided the butt-brush effect?

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Deb McGonagle

I have been a writer for various forms of marketing for awhile now. I've written my share of radio and TV scripts, magazine and newspaper ads as well as direct mail brochures and newsletters. Currently, as the Marketing Director for Traxia, home of SimpleConsign software, I've moved into blog posts, eBooks and website text. It's been an ever changing and ever challenging journey but I've loved it all along the way.