Bloomie's at Westfield Old Orchard Mall
RL Pro Exclusive

Inside Look: Retailers Across Sectors Continue to Launch Small-Format Stores

Elizabeth Christenson
Editor, Retail Leader Pro
Elizabeth Christenson profile picture

RL Pro Tip:  Small-format retail has been all the rage during the past few years, but just because the store footprint is smaller, doesn’t mean retailers are putting any less effort into making the in-store experience shine. 

Here’s how we’re seeing this trend come to life across retail:

  • Sprouts markets shifted all new store openings to reflect its small-format model across states to increase efficiency in the grocery shopping experience and provide shoppers with more exciting selections by eliminating non-productive space.
  • Rite Aid just debuted it’s smaller format pharmacy location in Virginia in an effort to bring better pharmacy services to underpenetrated communities.

Small-format stores allow retailers to be more efficient with their shelf space and tailor their offerings directly to the local community of consumers and their needs and wants. These stores are essential for areas like major cities and college campuses that lack the normal square footage needed for a traditional retail model and allow those residents the opportunity to connect with the brand in a new and unique way, ultimately creating higher brand value.

Last week, Bloomingdale's, a division of Macy’s Inc., opened its second smaller format store, dubbed Bloomie's, at the upscale Westfield Old Orchard Mall in the Chicagoland suburb of Skokie, Illinois. Retail Leader Pro had a first look walking through the highly curated store concept, which includes a new tech-enable stylist service and a cafe dining experience at its bCafé — all within 51,000 square feet.

As an iconic retailer celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, Bloomingdale’s is leaning into growing the smaller format concept — much like other retailers across sectors, from grocery (think Meijer, Save Mart and others) and mass merchandise to home furnishings, specialty and more. Target, Best Buy, Walmart and Macy’s are all experimenting with small-format concepts of their usual offerings as well. Retailers can tailor these smaller concepts to target a specific demographic or market, create a personalized shopping experience, or experiment with a new brand direction. Retailers also use smaller formats as a way to reach customers in urban areas or other towns — like college campuses — where larger stores are more difficult to open.

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