Retail space: the options for your business

If you're running a retail operation then location is vital - it determines how many customers you get.  To find the right location for your business you first need to work out what sort of customers you're targeting and where they hang out.  This guide explains the importance of research, and outlines the different types of UK premises available to retailers:

  • Do your research
  • Primary zones
  • Secondary zones
  • Retail parks

Do your research

Before you make any decisions on where to locate your business, carry out market research. Study what kind of people shop in what areas and decide if they're the kind of shopper that could be your potential customer. Market research needn't cost a fortune - armed with a notepad and a pen you can hit the streets and carry out the research yourself.  Make sure your research covers these key areas: population of your target area, accessibility for customer, competition from similar businesses and how much customers spend on products like yours.

  • You can carry out research yourself to cut costs
  • Research population, accessibility, competition and pricing

Primary zones

There are two main types of UK premises - primary and secondary zones. Primary are the areas of highest footfall, and so are the most sought after.  As such, they're also the most expensive. Your local high street will probably be a primary zone, and should give you access to plenty of customers and have the benefit of good public transport links. However, it is worth bearing in mind that competition in primary zones can be fierce - you may well be competing with the big brand names (Tesco, Starbucks, Sainsbury's et al).

  • Primary zones give you access to lots of customers
  • But they are expensive and the competition is tough

Secondary zones

Secondary zones are generally less expensive and are located outside the main high streets and centres. You get less access, transport link and visibility, but many independent traders find the edge of town can be a good spot.  Ask your local council about grants to lure businesses to edge of town locations, as they're sometimes offered.  Being near busy buildings such as big office blocks or university campuses, or clusters of similar businesses, can also work well.  Regular local trade and word of mouth recommendations will help build loyalty in these areas.

  • Secondary zones are less expensive and can still be effective
  • Aim for busier areas
  • Ask your local council about grants

Retail parks

Many customers who used to hit the high street now make their way to out-of-town retail parks, so it is worth investigating this option. Smaller shops do have a presence in the big retail parks (Bluewater and Meadowhall, for example). They usually operate in specialist areas of the mall, grouped together with similar stores. Although you get plenty of footfall, rates and rents will be expensive in these retail parks and you may find yourself competing with the big brands.

  • Smaller shops still have presence in big retail parks
  • You get good footfall but pay more for it
  • Competition may be tougher

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