Re-Thinking the Center Store Design

Retailinstore Grocery retailers unite! Store perimeters have gotten, well, just pretty dang awesome in recent years. I'm all for the expanded bakery sections (with my bonafide sweet tooth) and adding banks and health services to the store perimeter (Eyeglass fittings at Walmart? Check.), but I'm still looking to our design brethren to make the center store a bit more, well, less monotonous.

While perimeter sales are booming, center-store sales actually have declined on a same-store basis. And I'm not entirely surprised. Let's face it. Center store is kinda boring. How are canned veggies supposed to compete with beautifully illuminated, artfully displayed heads of broccoli and craftily merchandised bunches of carrots? Today's fickle shoppers "get in, get out, and get on" with their lives (thank you Chili's for the appropriate tagline) and the poor center store simply is not growing at the rate of the ever-exciting perimeter. Whatever are grocery retailers to do?

HELPFUL TIP ALERT!! Nielsen (our parent company….Thanks, Dad!) has just unveiled a Webinar that shares strategies and views on how best to leverage in-store innovation to generate more desirable shopper behavior, such as more frequent store visits, larger basket rings, or greater customer loyalty. It's turnign design into dollars, which to me equals "pretty cool" on my rank-o-meter. Take a listen and let us know what you think. What's in store for your clients' center store?

DDI, sister publication to Contract

(Photo: © Suharjoto)


  1. I am a perimeter shopper. Not because I'm fickled and it is easy to walk in a circle. I shop the perimeter because that is where the fresh food is. I do not eat processed food and do not need to walk into the center of the store except for a few key items. The can bean sales are declining not because it sits on a monotonous shelf in the center of the store but because it is processed. I won't buy the can of beans no matter where it is located in the store. Millions of people who want to fight the USA obesity problem have simply stopped eating processed foods loaded with ingredients designed to encourage over consumption. Instead of redesigning the center of the store redesign the food industry's vision of truly natural healthy food.

  2. What a great point, Geri! Consumer purchasing trends, such as in organic foods and healthy eating, are playing a role in the design of supermarkets. But in lots of existing stores, I am sure retailers struggle with repositioning and reallocating space to make these inclusions. What types of design "fixes" would you and other consumers/designers like to see?