Some of the criteria for finding the right retail sites in an urban environment often have distinct differences from suburban sites. Robert Tack, the CEO of Capital Retail Group, a Washington D.C. based commercial real estate firm, says “When choosing a location in the suburbs, the criteria is many times the same from region to region. However, retailers looking in the city almost always have to judge a site using a different set of criteria and metrics.”
Little or inconvenient parking in the suburbs can mean disaster. Not true in the city. Retailers who in the suburbs demand six spaces per 1,000 square feet of retail space must instead look at access to the site by other modes of transportation such as walking, bus, and metro.
Retailers want to know how many potential customers will go by their store. It pays to know the population density, median household income, daytime and nighttime population for the site under consideration. Robert Tack of Capital Retail Group says, “It’s very important to understand the daytime vs. nighttime traffic patterns and how this affects your business. You can expect a lot more daytime traffic in the central business district than in the evening. “
Retailers should know the co tenants in any area they are considering. Urban stores often rely on foot traffic generated by synergistic or potentially competing retailers. Anchor or large tenants usually establish the basic customer profile, but the type of smaller tenant is more critical in city neighborhoods.
The best retailers find out how to do more in less space in city locations. Focus on where the sales will be highest when evaluating urban retail locations. Evaluating more expensive locations with a smaller store size is justified if higher sales are projected as a return on investment.
Regardless of suburban or urban sites, retailers must know who their customer will be. Premier retailers such as Starbucks and Target have developed precise customer and location profiles by combining hundreds of data points including historical customer sales data and detailed shopping demographics. New retailers won’t have such elaborate profiles but still can find free data sources. Retailers can create their own grading system by assigning a score to elements such visibility, access, daytime population, household income, and traffic counts. A minimum acceptable score can be applied as a guideline helping a retailer avoid choosing poor performing locations.