Retail Space Planning Community


Floor Planning FAQs

By Michael Wilkening, ARC Communications Manager

Since launching this spring, the Space Planning Community has amassed a variety of detailed how-to documents, whitepapers, FAQs, and other expert materials for members to access on-demand in our Resource Library. These documents are intended to aid both new and developing space planners, as well as experienced professionals looking to refresh their skills or to reference guidance and thought leadership developed by industry experts.

Below is an excerpt of our “Floor Planning FAQs” document, which we’ve made free to all readers. Members can access the full document, as well as other expert content, in our Member Resource Library. And if you like this blog, you’ll especially enjoy the full FAQs, which has schematics of six common floor plans used by retailers.

What is a floor plan?

One of the key elements of macro space planning, the floor plan is a schematic detailing how retail space is allocated within the physical confines of a store. Floor planners help determine how much total space each category receives within a store, as well as where those categories are placed in relation to others. Floor plans also must consider space for check lanes, necessary safety and security measures, size of back-room, need for eCommerce order pick-up, and the nuances across store formats and locations depending on the size of the retailer and the number of stores they operate.

Macro space planners utilize floor plans to diagram how blocks of floor space will be put to best use for the store and the consumer. The goal is to maximize the shopper’s trip through the store, guiding them toward promotional, impulse, and profitable items as well as the staples consumers typically seek. Think of macro space planning as a zoomed-out, birds-eye view of store space – how the total space will be utilized, and by what groups of items. Macro space planning works together with micro space planning, which focuses on the composition and appearance of items on shelf.

How is a floor plan created?

It all begins with considering the specific current or target shoppers for that store. What are those key shopper demographics? Will you cater to higher-end shoppers primarily, or is affordability your image? What products and categories are essential, and which are “nice to have”? What products are typically purchased together and why? The answers to these questions will help determine what products to stock, and how they will be distributed throughout the store.

Then there’s the simple math of the square footage of your location. Every foot in the store must be mapped, and accurately, to ensure the right allocation of products to retail space. Aisles must be wide enough for people and shopping carts. Items that don’t fit standard shelves must be accounted for, too. Retail stores typically manage space in four-foot increments.

What are the key components of a floor plan?

The floor plan should be drawn to scale and display the following:

— How merchandise should be grouped in the store. For instance, a grocery store floor plan will detail where various departments sit, including, but not limited to, Bakery, Frozen Foods, General Merchandise, Dairy, Health and Beauty, Deli, Meat, Produce, and Seasonal.

— Aisles, fixtures, checkout areas, entrances, exits. In a grocery store, fixtures would include steel shelving, endcaps, upright refrigerators/freezers, bunkers and coolers, waterfall racks for magazines, and other common fixtures.

— Non-retail areas, including restrooms and business offices.

Access the full Floor Planning FAQs document found in the Member Resource Library.

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About the Author: Mike Wilkening, Communications Manager, for the Association of Retail and Consumer Professionals (ARC).

Mike brings more than two decades of communications experience to the CMA/SIMA. He began his career in journalism, spending more than 10 years covering the National Football League for Pro Football Weekly and NBC’s Pro Football Talk. His bylines have also appeared in CBS MarketWatch, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, NBC New York, and More recently, he has pivoted to corporate communications, including strategy and messaging experience for a Fortune 500 company. Mike holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Illinois.