Will the Big Box Stores of the Future Be "Urban Destinations"?


Circuit City and Linens ‘N Things shut down altogether; Walmart stores around the country have gone vacant.  As even the big box monolith loses money to dollar stores, it seems the giant suburban retail model is no longer sustainable.

Walmart and its ilk are re-thinking their size.  The bargain retailer has been rolling out smaller Walmart Express stores, a structure sometimes referred to in the retail industry as the “urban destination” model.  They’re about a tenth the size of Walmart’s supercenters.  But what does it mean when the urban destination store is in, say, Kansas?

Well, beyond offering less square footage, the new model might also impact where Americans do their shopping.  Traditionally located in edge-of-suburbia, driving-distance locations, many big chain retailers are looking to add their new, smaller stores on “Main Street” — aka in walking distance of their customers.

Apparently, luring shoppers by car to deal with parking isn’t so easy anymore –besides competing with the economy, suburbia’s big retailers have to deal with the rise of online retail.  Places like Best Buy have tried to up their brick-and-mortar appeal by, for instance, adding cafes.

Walking to manageable-sized stores?  Being able to have a coffee while you’re there?  It’s not quite a return to mom-and-pop shop culture, but the big box retailer seems like it’s about to get a whole lot more human-sized.

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