One of the first challenges you’ll likely face when opening a retail shop is finding the right space.
There are many factors to consider, aside from proximity to your home, and business owners could be missing a trick by not taking more time to consider the many geographical options available.
Sarah Musgrove, editor-in-chief at Opus Energy, shares some top tips for choosing the right retail location and premises.
Researching retail location
There are many different elements that need to be considered when narrowing down the location, such as:
- Business community (number of businesses in the area and what they specialise in)
- Average cost of retail premises
- Average retail spend
- Business survival rate
Using the criteria above, you should be able to narrow down your choices to two or three top contenders – the ones likely to suit both you and your business.
Narrow down and compare
Once you have an idea of which cities are the top contenders for your business, compare the pros and cons of each location against more rigorous criteria. These should be the elements you cannot compromise on. An example of this criteria could be:
- Transport links
- An easily accessible high street (e.g. loading and parking restrictions)
- Local amenities
Once you’ve compared the different options, it may mean that the initial top contenders aren’t right after all and this is completely normal. Ultimately, you need to find a space that will work for you and not the other way around.
Finding a property
Once you have found a location that caters to your essential criteria, the next challenge is finding the perfect retail space.
First, work out what you need from your business premises and what is a nice to have. For example, how much seating do you need, how many toilets are required and do you need a storage room?
Once you’ve figured this out you’ll know which barriers are worth trying to overcome. Otherwise, you might end up with a long list of ‘must-haves’ that blinds you to the perfect space.
If you’re looking for a pop-up location, there are several specialist websites that can help to find landlords who are willing to rent out their space for a short amount of time. Often, business ideas must be pitched to the venue owner – so it’s important to keep that in mind.
Look carefully at what’s included in the price too. Does it include business rates, utility bills and cleaning? Make sure you know exactly what your budget is and do not exceed it.
Make sure you also consider footfall. You may not need an expensive, central position as other locations in and around your city of choice might have more to offer.
Before making the final decision, make sure you consider how you will design and decorate the shop; after all the layout and decoration of a store can have the potential to see repeat business increase by 52 per cent, so it’s an important consideration when choosing an appealing and compelling environment for your customers.
Enjoy the highs and lows
It’s fair to say that finding a property might not seem like a challenging or time-consuming task. However, we learned that even the decisions you feel most confident about can be turned on their head in the space of a few hours – and there isn’t always the luxury of time to pivot or embrace the challenge.
Throughout every step of the process, there will be highs and lows. Every challenge may feel like a sign to turn around and give up, but this will just make it all the more worthwhile to see your business become a reality.
Remember, this is just the start. You will have plenty of time to adapt your space over time or even move location and premises when you start to grow.
Michaela Pontiki, founder of bakery arapina.co.uk, talks about how she scouted out the first location for her business – and what she’s looking for in the second.
Word of mouth is always valuable when you’re researching locations, but you’ll learn a lot by driving to the actual places you would like to trade.
Sometimes a borough might be great but the particular street that the shop is in might not work for the type of business you have.
Vital factors you should consider
It depends on what I have in mind every time for the site. For our first location, space was very important as we needed a big kitchen but on the second one we are looking for a busy high street shop.
Storage is always a plus but for us we prefer sites that are on one floor and have gas as well as electricity as it majorly cuts costs.
It took almost one year to find the premises we’re in now. Bear in mind that it is never easy to meet most of the requirements that you would like in the vast area of London.
“It took almost one year to find the premises we’re in now”
Of course, you should do your market research, but at the end of the day the success of a shop is down to you.
We opened our first location in a very quiet – almost hidden – plaza. We are trading well from there and have opened up to more possibilities for more locations. People will follow you if the service you are offering is worth following.
See also: Choosing business premises checklist