Sizing Down


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Is small suddenly better? Well, it appears officials at PETCO are examining a small-size store layout to test whether consumers want more or less from their favorite pet stores.

The San Diego-based mega-chain is rolling out what company officials call a 5,000-square-foot “pilot store” in its home city. Apparently, the primary focus will be mostly on dogs and cats. In addition, it appears that the chain will place a huge emphasis on customer service at the test store, employing dozens of workers to make sure that consumers get all the answers they need to all the questions they have.

Also, reports say that there will be no live animal sales at the store, which will allow employees to concentrate on other aspects of their jobs.

While PETCO officials are adamant that this is simply a test of a new store format, it is very clear that the company, like so many other mass retail chains, is looking for ways to attract more consumers into its stores. And, like many other retailers, PETCO executives seem to be under the impression that smaller is better, after years of pushing the concept that a larger store, with so many products under one roof, is the way to go.

From this angle, it does not seem like such a bad move, especially as consumers seek more convenient ways to shop. A 5,000-square-foot store could, in some areas, serve as the perfect format for those shoppers looking for the basics for their dogs or cats. A solid mix of the most demanded and popular food, supplies and maintenance items could be enough to satisfy the needs of many consumers, particularly those who are on tight schedules and simply do not have the energy to shop larger stores.

Adding more in-store support will only enhance the shopping experience and should, if done correctly, entice consumers to spend more money once they get into the store.

Other retailers should observe this test. If PETCO is successful, they may want to institute their own small-store program. If they already operate smaller stores, they may want to institute new merchandising strategies that will ensure that their store is still different than the one PETCO is testing.

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