Construction plans

5 Things to Keep in Mind When Renovating Your Retail Store

Danielle Collard
16 Aug 2023

While eCommerce continues to grow in popularity, many shoppers still favour in-store shopping[1]. Love for the high street remains strong, so brick and mortar shops need to emphasize something online shopping can’t: the in-store experience.

An essential part of the in-store experience is how a shop looks and feels. But retail renovation can be expensive, so knowing when to spend, where to invest and what to value will make the difference between the physical transformation of your retail dreams and a sinkhole that struggles to pay back its expense.

1. How much does it cost to renovate a retail store?

Store renovation involves numerous essential fixtures that few businesses can function without, which can prove expensive. Plumbing, electrics, lighting, plastering, carpeting, and painting all need to be paid for even before any units such as shelving or stands get positioned in commercial space.

Whether you hire a specialist team to carry out all of these tasks, or separate handypersons for each job, you will need to pay for these skills and materials. Though the quality and extent of the renovation can reduce the expense, estimates on renovation begin at a $90 cost per square foot for a low-quality, functional space[2].

On the other hand, a high-quality shop renovation can cost as much as $200 per square foot[3]. With many retailers operating out of locations above 1000 sq ft, full renovations can come at a great expense and can only be entered into after detailed planning and budgeting.

Whenever thinking about cost in business, though, business leaders tend to think of the expense as an investment. Any renovation aims to reclaim costs by growing profits. Therefore, renovation costs will prove worthwhile if they create foreseeable, long-term growth worth the short-term expense.

2. How will you trade while the work takes place?

Any forecast for the cost of a renovation must account for the loss of trade when building work takes place. This can affect small businesses very heavily since many small businesses operate with tight margins.

The extent of any losses will vary based on several factors, from how long the work will take, how much of your trade comes through other channels, and whether or not you can run limited service during construction.

Calculating lost trade from renovation will help you assess how to invest your renovation funds. For example, if using a different contractor enables you to reopen sooner or expand your service then losing customers in the short term may be worth it if the business will make the money back.

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3. What changes can be made to reduce operating costs for the business?

The temporary loss of trade accrued during commercial renovations doesn’t only create opportunity to increase revenue. It can also lead to reduced operating costs:

  • Improving plumbing, insulation and heating systems, or creating natural ventilation or lighting, can all lead to lower bills that the business will save on for decades into the future. 
  • Creating new doors and rooms can streamline the service with better inventory storage, shorter routes across the building, or greater visibility.
  • Expanding electrical systems to boost the range and accessibility of time-saving electrical devices can reduce staffing requirements. It might also allow extra work to be completed by improving access and availability of mains power. 
  • Renovation projects create these opportunities in abundance, and business owners benefit from taking a multi-faceted approach. 
  • Improving weaknesses in the floor plan not only creates more shelf space to expand product ranges but can also make operating easier and cheaper.

4. How will your renovation impact the way space is used?

Renovating your retail business can improve the economy of space and aesthetic impact it has on customers. Cleverly used space provides you with more opportunity without seeming excessively cluttered, making the customer feel claustrophobic. The customer experience has become a key difference between the online and brick and mortar retail worlds, so renovating well with an eye to effect, beauty, and style is key.

A well-thought-out retail shop will create a welcoming and beautiful environment while allowing as much room for products as possible. With more products on shelves, customers will know your business is well stocked and is a good browsing spot, a key part of any shopping experience.

Economy of space can also provide the opportunity to expand the range of product lines a business offers. A tool shop can become a tool and supply store; a convenience store and can expand into a mini-market. This can then expand the market the business caters to.

Renovating with a plan for these end goals allows retailers to optimise their use of space, but failing to plan can create serious limitations further down the road.

5. How will renovating change the image of the business?

Finally, when investing in a renovation, most businesses want the final product to align with the business’s image. 

A high fashion outlet will need every corner of the store to represent values of style, elegance, and attention to detail. So cheap, functional flooring would be a poor investment, even if it saves money in the short term. Customers judge a business through every part of their experience, from product and staff to the finest details of their building. Cutting corners can therefore prove very costly.

Understanding company values and keeping renovation choices in-line with them can improve branding and customer relationships just like any marketing campaign. Indeed, retailers often benefit from publicizing renovations with loud, celebratory reopenings, events and promotions.

These events can be hugely profitable and can kickstart trade after a period of closure. However, scheduling during renovation can be complex so contingency planning and strong communication with contractors can help re-opening events achieve best results.

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