The rise in urban stores in city centres

27 October, 2017

For years large chain store establishments have been located in retail areas on the outskirts of big cities. Times have changed and there is an increasing trend towards opening outlets in the heart of city centres. This trend is not new but it has grown exponentially over the past few years.

This new urban business model satisfies the need to find new formulas for interacting with customers.  Reaching out to the customer and enhancing the shopping experience are the main objectives of urban stores.


Visits to stores on the outskirts of towns and cities tend to be less frequent, purchases are planned and the average sales ticket is high. In the case of food shopping, the image of families at weekends doing their weekly or /monthly shopping at the hypermarket is familiar to all of us.

However, during the economic crisis, trips to these large retail outlets gradually decreased as did the mean sales ticket of the shopping basket and this contributed to an increase in urban shops and stores and the trend of more frequent visits. In addition to this, consumers have become more urbanite and shopping has become more of an impulsive act. Consumers want to experience the new services that smaller store formats can offer.

The shopping experience has become a differentiating factor for many chains that have opted for the new urban formats, with their pros and cons (urban shops tend to have smaller sales areas -200 to 2,000 square metres).

Optimising space is paramount in urban stores

In order to optimise space the shop design must be carefully planned to make sure that equipment takes up the minimum space possible. Small aisles and narrow check-outs mean retailers have to choose solutions that adapt to limited spaces. Self-service baskets and plastic shopping carts are a clear example of how these items have evolved towards more compact formats but without foregoing an improved shopping experience for users.


Another aspect is that there is less space for shelving and so greater thought and care has to go into choosing products so that customers are not disappointed with the range available. Although it is also true to say that there has been a change in the behaviour of shoppers at city centre stores and they do not shop for the same items as they would in a hypermarket or a store in a shopping mall.

Media Markt, Aki, Carrefour, Leroy Merlin and Decathlon are just some of the leading retail firms that have backed this urban shop format on our cities’ main shopping streets.