How To Create a Floor Plan for Grocery Stores To Maximize Profits

Grocery stores have slim profit margins, so you need to amp up your sales to get the most out of your store. Profitable national grocery stores average $507 in sales per square foot annually — more than one hundred dollars over the retail industry average. 

Yet many smaller stores fail to optimize their layout to reach this benchmark. Small grocery stores already struggle with space, and not using that space to its maximum potential can cause customer frustration and lagging sales.

Key departments get buried, aisles are narrow and congested, and promotional displays have no strategic placement.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

This article highlights proven tips to bring your grocery store business plan and dreams to life with a floor plan optimized for profits. With thoughtful planning around traffic flow, displays, and department zoning, you, too, can maximize sales per square foot.

Creating a Floor Plan for Your Grocery Store

Creating a floor plan for your grocery store isn’t just about arranging shelves and checkout counters. You should think of your floor plan as guiding every part of the customer experience inside your store. 

Your grocery store's layout isn't just about aesthetics; it's about psychology. The right layout can boost sales and encourage larger purchases, where the wrong layout can frustrate customers and have them running for the exits. Your layout needs to be intuitive, making it easy for shoppers to find what they need, while also tempting them with enticing products they might not have thought to look for. 

An efficient layout can help increase average sales by strategically placing high-margin items or enticing sales promotions. Plus, it can streamline operations, making restocking, cleaning, and managing grocery store inventory a breeze. In short, the right store layout is a win-win for both you and your customers.

With this in mind, let’s examine some ways you can create a floor plan for your grocery store that will keep customers smiling, purchasing, and coming back for more. 

Start With the Traffic Flow You Want To Create

Creating wide aisles is the first step in creating positive traffic flow in your store. You want to maximize sales per square foot, so narrower aisles and more shelving may sound like a good idea. However, customers who feel cramped, navigating a narrow maze of aisles with a bulky shopping cart, will feel less comfortable and more frustrated. Frustrated customers won’t spend as much time in your store. They’ll spend less and be less likely to come back the next time they need their weekly groceries.

Next, consider using aisle-mapping software to analyze traffic patterns. This technology allows you to see where customers tend to linger and where they speed through. This information is gold when you're planning and optimizing your layout.

Related Read: Top 5 Grocery Store Software Options for Small Markets

Another pro tip is to place high-traffic necessities, like produce and milk, in the rear of the store. This tactic guides customers through your store (increasing their chances of buying more) and allows you to showcase your other products. 

Finally, whatever you do, make sure your checkout lanes are visible from all parts of the store. The easier it is for customers to find those checkout lanes, the easier it is for them to spend money at your store.

Invest in Adjustable Shelving

Now, let's talk shelving. If your shelves are rigid and unchangeable, you're missing out. Adjustable shelving is a game-changer, especially for small grocery stores. When your shelving is adjustable, you can accommodate different product sizes and types, giving you flexibility for seasonal products, changing trends, and more. 

Next, you’ll want to incorporate low shelving near the floor. Your stockers and customers will thank you for positioning heavy items like cases of water or other bulky items in these prime, low-to-the-ground spots. 

You should also strategically place endcaps and promotional displays at your aisle ends. Endcaps are incredible for boosting sales and can be ideal places for themed displays and promotions that tie into seasons and holidays. These seasonal displays help keep your store fresh and exciting and provide convenience for customers looking for holiday or seasonal products.

Consider Department Layout

Next, let's talk about departments. An ideal grocery store has a sensible layout. Place complementary or like departments together to make it convenient for customers to find similar products and make the store feel logical and well-put-together. 

Your layout will be specific based on your store and customer needs. However, there’s a few “tried and true” layout rules you may consider. First, position produce and floral sections near the front of your store. Freshness sells, and these colorful, fragrant sections set the tone for your entire store. Also, don't forget to locate the customer service desk near the front entrance.

As for checkout lanes, place them in a prominent, easily visible location and staff them based on expected traffic flow. If you know your Saturday afternoons are crazy busy, ensure you have enough staff on hand to open extra lanes. Let’s dive a bit more into checkout-specific layout.

Related Read: Self-Checkout vs. Cashier Lanes: What's Best for a Grocery Store?

Prioritize the Checkout Area

Your checkout area is the finish line of your customers’ shopping experience. It’s the lasting impression they’ll leave your store with, so you must take every step necessary to make it smooth and efficient. 

Offer both staffed and self-checkout options to prevent bottlenecks. Some customers love the DIY approach, while others prefer a friendly cashier. Catering to both types of customers is essential to your store’s success. 

For those who choose the staffed checkout, allow a minimum of 15 feet between checkout lanes for queuing. No one likes to feel like they're being herded like cattle, so you should give your customers room to breathe.

Finally, don't forget about the power of impulse items. Stock goodies like candy and magazines near the registers. These little treats can boost customers’ moods and your sales at the same time. So, keep these checkout goodies well-stocked and watch your sales soar.

Designing Different Department Zones

Not only should you consider where to place various departments within your store, but you must consider the needs of each department when designing those sections. Let’s look at our top design tips for some key departments in your store.


  • Produce Rotation: Regularly restock the produce section to remove spoiled or overripe items. Keeping a close eye on freshness makes your produce look more appealing and also prevents overripe items from spoiling nearby produce. 

Related Read: What Is Inventory Shrinkage in Retail? 8 Ways To Prevent It

  • Seasonal Promotions: Use eye-catching promotional signage to highlight and draw attention to seasonal produce. These types of promotions can help boost sales of fresh, in-season items.
  • Bright Lighting: Ensure the produce area is well-lit with bright, energy-efficient lighting to make your fruits and vegetables look fresher and more appealing.

Deli and Bakery

  • Display Freshness: Use glass cases to display freshly prepared deli and bakery items. Designated cases like these allow customers to see your deli and bakery section’s quality and selection. 
  • Customer Convenience: Position the deli/bakery near a retail customer service desk or have designated staff in each section. Customers will need assistance in these departments, so making staff readily available is critical.
  • Complementary Items: Place the deli/bakery section adjacent to complementary items like cheese, chips, and dips. This placement encourages cross-selling and can give you a boost in sales.

Frozen Foods

  • Efficient Placement: Position the frozen foods section along the back walls of your store when possible to minimize cold air escaping into the store, helping save on energy costs.
  • Easy Access: Use low shelving and upright cases to provide customers with easy access to frozen products, ensuring they don't struggle to reach items.
  • Visibility: Utilize angled shelving to improve visibility, making it more straightforward for customers to find what they want. Implement clear signage to guide customers to specific items or sections.

Meat and Seafood

  • Separate Service Areas: Differentiate between the meat and seafood sections by having separate counter service areas. This step helps maintain hygiene and prevents cross-contamination.
  • Expert Assistance: Employ experienced butchers and fishmongers to assist customers with their specific requests and to provide recommendations.
  • Special Orders: Position the meat/seafood department near the customer service desk or with informed staff at the counter, making it convenient for customers to place special orders, such as whole fish or custom cuts.
  • Complementary Products: Similar to your deli and baked goods section, you have an opportunity for cross-selling in the meat and seafood section. Display marinades, rubs, and seasoning packets adjacent to the meat/seafood department to encourage larger sales.

Which Key Metrics Should You Track?

Tracking the right metrics can give you insights into the best decisions for your floor plan. These are some of the top metrics you should measure if you want to maximize profits for your store.

Store Performance Metrics

  • Sales per Square Foot by Department: Monitor the performance of each department in your grocery store. This metric can help you allocate resources effectively and identify areas for improvement in your store layout.
  • Average Transaction Size: Keep an eye on the average amount customers spend per transaction. This metric can guide your pricing and marketing strategies and show opportunities for cross-selling or promotions.
  • Customer Satisfaction Surveys: Collect feedback from your customers to understand their needs and preferences. Use this data to make informed decisions about product selection and customer service improvements.

Inventory Management Metrics

  • Inventory Turns by Product Category: Track how quickly products in different categories sell through and are replaced. Keeping an eye on this metric helps prevent overstocking or running out of stock of various items.
  • Carrying Costs: Calculate the costs associated with holding inventory, including storage, insurance, and financing. Reducing carrying costs can improve your store’s profitability.
  • Shrinkage Rate: Track the percentage of inventory lost due to theft, spoilage, or other reasons. Reducing shrinkage helps improve profitability.
  • Dead Stock: Identify items that have been in inventory for a long time and aren't selling. Reducing dead stock can free up capital and shelf space.

Related Read: 8 Inventory KPIs Every Grocery Store Owner Should Track

How To Manage and Track Key Metrics

The right grocery store POS system can help you manage and track key metrics for your store. A robust point of sale system can help you generate detailed daily sales reports by department, enabling you to analyze your top-performing product categories and plan accordingly.

You can also use your POS to track your average number of transactions per day, week, or month, gaining insights into your store’s overall traffic and purchasing trends over time. Finally, you can use your point of sale system to track customer data and collect feedback from shoppers, making it easy for them to share their experiences and allowing you to make improvements based on what your customers want and need from your store. 

Maximize Profits With the Best Floor Plan for Grocery Stores

Crafting the perfect floor plan for your grocery store is a surefire way to boost profits and create a satisfying shopping experience for your customers. Considering factors like traffic flow, display space, department arrangement, and checkout convenience can help you increase sales, encourage repeat visits, and boost the size of each shopper's basket.

But remember, the grocery business is ever-evolving. Demographics shift, shopping habits change, and inventory needs fluctuate. What worked in the past might not be as effective today. That's why it's crucial to stay on top of your store's performance metrics, continuously tracking sales, transactions, inventory turnover, and customer satisfaction.

The tool that can help you track this data and optimize your store’s performance? Your point of sale solution. Your POS is the backbone of your operations, and if you want to take your grocery store to the next level, you’ll want to use a point of sale designed specifically for grocery stores and markets. Our specialized POS solution can help you streamline your processes, boost efficiency, and maximize profits.

Don't just take our word for it — see the difference for yourself. Schedule a free software demo of IT Retail today to see how our solution can revolutionize your store.