Retail Space Planning Community

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Introducing ARC’s First Space Planning Team Benchmarking Survey

By Michael Wilkening, ARC Communications Manager

In Spring 2023, ARC established the Space Planning Community with a simple aim: bring together practitioners and senior leaders at retailers, suppliers and brokers to better our industry through learning, collaboration, networking, and thought leadership. 

Among our main tasks in Year One was to learn more about how retailers, suppliers, and brokers organize their space planning teams. How many are employed by company type at the analyst/planner, manager, and director roles? What is the reporting structure internally? Who is hiring?

To that end, we are pleased to unveil the results of our initial Space Planning Team Benchmarking Survey. Members can view the entire survey in our member Resource Library, but we wanted to take a few moments to share some broader findings with the industry at-large.

About our survey: This initial space benchmarking exercise served questions individually to retailers and suppliers (with whom we bundled brokers, given their similarities in work). It also asked a range of questions on hiring plans, salary banding, employees’ physical locations, and preferred job-applicant attributes to both groups.

Overall, 31 suppliers and 25 retailers took part in our survey in December 2023 for a total sample size of 56.

These results should help leaders determine how their teams stack up against others of similar size and type. Some may identify gaps in staffing that can be filled. Practitioners can use these results to help understand their broader retailer and supplier teams better, as well as expectations of those hiring.

Three key takeaways from our survey:

• About two-thirds of retailers have a dedicated space planning department, with the majority reporting through Merchandising. By contrast, suppliers mainly combine Space Planning with Category Management, with two-thirds of our respondents using this blended approach.

• About 70% of retailers surveyed expect to hire space planners in 2024. However, only 42% of suppliers are looking to hire space planners this year.

Analytical skill remains the top trait sought by both suppliers and retailers. From there, desired skills diverge with little “cross-over expertise” in areas including CPG and in-store experience between the two groups.

We see this initial benchmarking exercise as a starting point to other research and learning about our industry. We thank each of our participants for their time and expertise, and we thank you for our interest in space planning. As the song goes, we’ve only just begun.

Access the full Space Planning Team Benchmarking Survey document in the Member Resource Library.

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Want to become a member to network with peers, train your team, share best practices, and more? Contact our member services team today.


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 ESPN.com. 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.

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