Store refits and renovations are costly ventures at the best of times, but in the current climate, many retailers are postponing or cancelling big plans. The cost-of-living crisis, coupled with rising costs for raw materials, has made such ventures risky at this time and many retailers would rather concentrate on maximising sales over the summer. 

“Even the materials and shelving are so expensive,” says Sarj Patel, from Pasture Lane Stores in Sutton Bonington, Nottinghamshire. “Everything is sky high at the moment.” 

However, a store renovation need not be so wholesale that it requires hiring professional tradespeople or knocking through external walls. 

There are things that retailers can do themselves to refresh the store at minimal expense. 

“We do little bits to refresh the store all the time,” says Ashton Gardner, from Westacre Service Station in Salisbury, Wiltshire. “We move shelves around and we change the profiling of the shop. We can’t move big things like cigarette gantries, but we can buy new ice cream freezers and move them around the shop.” 

By thinking about the customer journey around your store, it’s possible to identify dead spaces that could be better used with a rejig of alignment. Aman Uppal, from One Stop Mount Nod in Coventry, recommends focusing on moving shelving and stands, given the immovability of fridges and freezers due to electricals sockets. 

Patel recommends focusing on how things look in the store rather than the store itself. “It’s about getting your lighting right, for example,” he says. 

“If you’re selling alcohol, it’s far better to have more lights behind the bottles on the shelves. Just because something’s on the shelf, it doesn’t mean it will sell. These things have to be done properly and little things like lighting all help. If you’re going to spend money, then you might as well do it properly.” 

Read more: How to attract younger shoppers to to your store

Use the space you have

Ashton Gardner has a fair amount of space to play with at his Londis Westacre Service Station in Salisbury, Wiltshire. He uses this to create new displays and to rearrange shelving that keeps his store fresh, displays new products and keeps customers moving. 

“We can create stacks of things,” he says. “We just bought a table from a car- boot sale, put a cloth over it and then bought a few stands to put the bakery items on and it was good to go as a bakery space. We have the luxury of space, but it’s about using the space you’ve got.” 

One of his stores was completely rearranged to create a queue-busting system that reduced congestion during the pandemic. 

Because this was achieved through moving shelves, it was inexpensive and has been changed back with ease now there is less social distancing in his store. 

Look at store layout

Over the past 18 months, Aman Uppal has been extending the food-to-go and vaping offer at his One Stop Mount Nod store in Coventry. Simply by moving things around in his store, he has created the space to do so without costly renovations. 

“Look at your layout and create something new by moving things around the store,” he says. 

“We blocked up some of our windows to make more space. Don’t be afraid of doing that if you’ve got good-quality LED lighting. In the old days, you wanted open windows, but I don’t think it has as much of an effect as it used to. 

“We’ve created a food-and-drink area in that space and it’s been very successful.” 

His next plan is working out how to find the space for a new Smart Soda machine – a first for the UK. “I can see the space, so we’ll have a bit of a rejig. I’ve got a plan up my sleeve,” he says. 

Change displays seasonally

In her Hopes of Longtown store in Herefordshire, Christine Hope has dedicated areas specifically designed to change over time. “We have a seasonal display in the doorway and a secondary display mainly of gift items,” she says. 

“We also have a magazine of the week, which we promote on social media, and a book of the week. 

“At the post office, we have a stationery display that changes with new arrivals. Although the shop is exactly the same as before, it looks a bit different for those eye-level purchases.” 

Hope says this approach works for shoppers who have bigger baskets without alienating more regular visitors. “If you come in every day and buy a paper, it doesn’t affect that, but if people come in once a month and buy a selection of items, the store is refreshed. It costs time, of course, but it’s not spending £1,000 on a new chiller.” 

Take help from symbols

Sarj Patel, from Pasture Lane Stores in Sutton Bonington, Nottinghamshire, looked to Premier for assistance when he was looking to make inexpensive improvements into his store. While physical changes to the layout and new shelving are too expensive, because of the cost of supplies or employing people, a simple change in his merchandising and PoS has made a massive difference to his store. This was provided by a symbol group at little cost to himself. 

“Often the merchandising is more important than the layout,” he says. “If you get that right. then things will sell, and if you get it wrong, then it’s really no good having a great layout. It’s about getting the right PoS and getting things in the right place in the store so that when people walk in they can always see it. You’re better off going to a symbol group rep to get help for this.”

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