Friday, March 4, 2011

Big boxes don't want to be so big anymore

The Wall Street Journal article below reports on a number of traditional big box stores that are shifting to smaller stores, and in many cases, finding other products or businesses to take some of their space. For instance:


  • A Rockford, IL dental clinic rented space in two area Kmarts last year;
  • Sears rented 34,000 square feet of its Greensboro, NC space to Whole Foods Market;
  • Home Depot is selling off portions of its parking lots to fast food chains and auto repair shops;
  • After years of expanding by adding stand-alone stores, Gap is starting to bring GapKids and Gap Body back into its namesake Gap stores;
  • Best Buy, which in many stores is adding musical instruments and exercise equipment to better utilize big spaces, is slowing growth of big box stores in favor of adding 150 Best Buy Mobile locations;
  • Wal-Mart is accelerating the rollout of 40,000 square feet (or less) stores after a seventh consecutive quarterly decline in sales at U.S. stores open at least a year;
  • Staples, the second largest online seller behind Amazon.com, plans to flood urban and suburban areas with mini stores (approx. 4,000 SF) in coming years.


The article cites a couple reasons for the change. For one, Amazon.com's offerings "dwarf even the most bountiful in-store selection," and advances in supply-chain management allow smaller retailers to replenish shelves more quickly, thereby reducing the amount of shelf space needed.

The story: As Big Boxes Shrink, They Also Rethink

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