In Successfully Locating A Business, zoning and land use expert witness John J. Wallace writes on a retailer’s biggest challenge:
California’s innovative shopping centers are home to many retailing firsts — and today they are home to many first-time retailers. This new breed of store owner tends to be strong on operations, such as merchandising and service, and weak on business experience. Thus, they often run afoul of retail fundamentals — particularly site selection.
Locating a retail store in today’s centers has become more subtle and complex, but it remains the single most important factor in a merchant’s success. Even for established and successful retail chains, location typically accounts for more than 90 percent of the variation in performance among outlets.
The first thing to grasp about site selection is that the basic principles haven’t changed in a long time. Despite many experiments and variations, no center has really found a better layout than the familiar dumbbell design. In this architectural design, major department stores or other destination retailers anchor either end of a shopping mall. The smaller stores line the mall itself. By the same token, there is no better urban shopping arrangement than some variation on a “Main Street.” Here, shoppers looking up and down the “street” can see every store, and, as they travel its length, they pass every business.