Elements Of Streetfront Retail Site Selection

There are many components which make up a successful streetfront location. We can gain a significant edge using in depth statistical and demographic information to help ensure your success with each new potential site.

We have listed our top 15 tips on site selection below in order to help you gain an edge on your competition and ensure success!… You may also want to benchmark some of these elements with an existing successful location for added insight.

GENERAL ELEMENTS (The Neighbourhood)

TRAFFIC OR VEHICULAR COUNTS: Information on the estimated number of vehicles passing the retail node is very helpful in determining the success of the area and potential site.

PEDESTRIAN TRAFFIC COUNTS: Data, estimating the number of pedestrians passing by the potential site during certain day parts; this also helps us understand the audience of the market and the retail node.

DIRECTION OF RETAIL RUN: Generally, if the retail node runs east/west, with retail locations fronting on the north and south side of the street, the greater pedestrian flow is usually on the north side due to the sun shining predominantly on this side of the street. Therefore true retailers generally prefer the north side of the street, which corresponds with greater traffic flow, higher rents and more sales revenues. Destination type retailers may sacrifice traffic flow for a reduced rent; generally the assumption is the customer will venture across the street to visit their store… instead of an impulse type purchase.

PARKING: Parking is an important element of a successful retail streetfront node and location.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Bus/Streetcar/Subway access is an important element and greatly increases pedestrian flow.

DEMOGRAPHICS: Demographics within a specified trade area can greatly help us understand the node and customer base. Using some statistical and demographic information, as well as benchmarking some of these elements with existing successful locations, can also help evaluate the success of a proposed location.

FAMILY EXPENDITURE: Family expenditures, within our retail type and within our defined catchment area, can help us understand the area and location; they can also give us some estimated projected sales figures.

MAPPING: Mapping of the area with competitors, traffic generators, parks, public transit stops, etc., can also helps us understand the area and potential site.

BIA: Talking with the local Business Improvement Association can also give us some good insight into the local flavour with regards to needs of customers and area residents.


FRONTAGE: The larger or more width to our potential premise, the more exposure and signage, etc., provides us with better merchandising, better visuals and generally provides a better shopping experience.

CEILING HEIGHT: Higher ceilings provide a more comfortable and more spacious feel, which generally encourages more positive results.

GLAZING/STOREFRONT: Storefronts are the front stage for the shopping experience. It is very important to have the correct “look and feel” for your concept. If necessary, the storefront may need to be altered or re-configured to reflect your brand.

FLOOR PLAN: An important element in your site selection…the retail location should not feel “long and narrow” or too “open and boxy”. A typical 1,200 square foot retail premise would lay-out nicely at a dimension of 20 feet of frontage by 60 feet of depth. This provides both adequate frontage for exposure and depth for merchandising.

ON-GRADE: The potential site should be on-grade or level with the side walk or entrance… steps leading up or down negatively impact the shopping experience.

Flow: The potential site should be located in the area or side of the street where the pedestrian flow is greatest.

Site Selection is critical to your business success. The information in this article can help you get started, giving you the basic foundation for a strong retail location. However more detailed information on each variable is readily available when a thorough and more detailed assessment is needed or when you need to make an educated decision between different sites.