12 Signs Your Store Is Overdue For A Retail Renovation

Posted on July 26, 2022 by CBSF

12 Signs Your Store Is Overdue For A Retail Renovation

Posted on July 26, 2022 by CBSF

It’s Time to Remodel Your Retail Space

For retailers of all sizes, opening brand new stores is an exciting sign of growth.

Closing underperforming locations is always a challenge.

But updating out-of-date stores?

Well, it’s an inevitable part of the retail lifecycle – especially for long-standing, high-traffic, successful locations.

In our recent post, we shared tips, tactics, and the benefits of staying open while renovating. And while these are some pretty incredible tips, they’re intended for retailers who are already planning an update.

What about everyone else who’s left questioning, “how should we plan for store renovations?”

Well, in our experience, some retailers work on 5-7 year cycles that include a total refurbishment.

Others work on a 3-5 year cycle to update displays and fixtures without taking on significant renovations. 

And a small group of retailers seem to never plan for updates but commission the work on demand.

No matter which category you fit into, in this post, we’re going to break down 12 signs that your store is due for a retail renovation.


#1 – Your store’s a blast from the past.

Shoppers are fickle, judgey, and far more influenced by aesthetics and experience than they would care to admit.

So unless your brand intends to feel retro, an outdated store design shouts “out of touch.”

With the amount of effort and resources that you put into sourcing and buying innovative and novel merchandise, it’s counter-productive to then display and sell those goods in a run-down or dated retail store.

#2 – Wear and tear makes your store look run down.

While wear and tear are inevitable, especially in high-traffic locations, the last thing you want is the perception that your business is struggling.  

If you have any of the following, it’s time to freshen up:

  • Floors – stained or sun-faded floors, chipped tiles, scratched hardwood
  • Fixtures – scratched, chipped, or dented fixtures, broken hardware
  • Displays – scuffed or chipped displays, broken hardware
  • Also, consider your checkouts, paint on walls and doors, and lighting (different colour temperature bulbs)

# 3 – Your store is a hodgepodge of different designs.

If you’re like most retailers, your store has experienced a lot of minor tweaks and changes over the years: new ideas, different programs, and a bunch of suppliers.

If your displays and fixtures clash or your signage and other in-store elements look like patchwork instead of a seamless brand experience, it’s time to straighten everything up.

Simply, if your store looks like a collage of various designs, a remodel will help you create one central theme to bring back cohesion.

#4 – Your signage and wayfinding are ineffective.

As someone who’s in your store all the time, you grow used to your layout.

While this is a good thing (think, you know it like the back of your hand), it also means that your staff slowly becomes blind to the way new shoppers see and make their way through your space.

This is why effective signage and wayfinding are so important.

For inspiration, you can check out our definitive guide to retail signage we recently published.

In addition to that post, consider updating vinyls, graphics, signs, wayfinding and exterior signage for a clean new look.

Also, consider that the new tech behind updated signage can help lower energy consumption.


#5 – Your stores are hard to navigate.

Building off of #4, if your store is hard to navigate, shopping will be a painful experience.

While new wayfinding is a cost-effect update, many stores face more serious layout challenges, including:

  • Being forced to respond to the pandemic BOPIS requirements
  • Changing shopping behaviours like frictionless retail
  • Unclear sections
  • Clunky omnichannel integrations

While many locations get by making small changes year after year, only a complete store renovation gives you a clean slate to layout your store without restrictions.

#6 – Your store feels crowded.

Sure, the pandemic trained shoppers to keep 6′ apart, but even before, studies show that people do not feel comfortable in an overly crowded space.

Have you heard of the “butt-brush effect” (coined by consumer behaviour expert Paco Underhill)? It seems that customers will avoid going down an aisle or approaching merchandise (even stuff they really want) if there’s a chance they could potentially have their backside brushed (or brush someone else’s backside).

#7 – Your store doesn’t embrace “dwell-time.”

Dwell-time is time spent in-store, making your way around, browsing, trying things on, and shopping.

If you’re running a grab-and-dash kind of store, this isn’t a critical factor. But if you’re in fashion, electronics, furniture, hardware, bookstores, coffee shops, QSR, etc., this is a crucial part of your environment design and shopping experience.

So consider elements of comfort like:

  • Couches, benches, and seating
  • Eating or meeting areas for people to connect
  • Changerooms that are well-lit, clean, and accessible
  • Bathrooms that are spacious, clean, and accessible
  • In-store music, digital screens, or entertainment

While each of these elements requires floor space (which may be accommodated by reducing your stock or with more space-efficient fixtures), the tradeoff may well be worth it.

#8 – Employee morale is low.

The employment market is all over the place. In some corners, it’s a competitive labour market, while in others, it’s the ‘great resignation.’  

Regardless of what you face, it takes incredible people to build solid businesses.

If employee morale is low, a new coat of paint may not change that. However, a retail renovation is an opportunity to improve your staff’s working conditions, remove daily frustrations, and incorporate their thoughts and feedback in the early parts of the process.

People like to work in fantastic spaces – if you create an amazing new space, they will appreciate that.


#9 – Your displays stopped making an impact.

At their core, displays should capture peoples’ attention, inform, inspire, and drive sales for the products they feature.

If a display is failing to do that, it’s typically because of…

  • Changes in your customer demographics
  • Repeat customers developing “banner blindness” 
  • Small changes to the store layout/products reducing visibility
  • Displays aging out so they look outdated

Considering that displays are there to capture attention and drive sales – if that’s not happening, a revamp is in order.

#10 – You have not digitized your environment.

With the move to omnichannel shopping, the need for digital displays, and the addition of interactive digital shopping experiences, there are a lot of “new” things to try and fit into an “old” space.

A retail reno not only gives you the chance to rethink your digital experience but also allows you to reconfigure your entire floor space.

#11 – You need more space for new products.

A growing retail business often faces the challenges that come with success. Part of that is balancing new, novel goods with the classics that bring people back.

As your business grows, the number of vendors, types of products, categories, and skews all tend to grow.

While this growth opens new possibilities for a larger location, you may be able to get additional space by taking on an adjoining unit or making better use of your existing space.

#12 – Your competitors are updating.

Nothing motivates change like some healthy competition. So if the competitor across the street makes improvements, it tends to start the clock on how long you have to respond – especially if that competitor is raising the bar, setting a new standard in your industry or community.

Simply, if others are investing in improvements and you don’t want to be left behind, it’s time to act.


Designing a retail space is a never-ending process. You’ll never stop switching out, tweaking, or adding elements in order to build sales and a great experience.

Being one of Canada’s largest retail fixture and store design builders, we design-build retail environments, displays, and fixtures with your business and the entire shopping experience in mind.

Always willing to do whatever it takes, we will lead every part of your retail renovation, from construction management and planning, to fixture and display design and manufacturing, to installation and merchandising.

Looking for help with your next project?

Contact our retail design-build team to get a project plan and quote now!