Ep. 109 Retail Sales Per Square Foot
Many years ago, my sister and I considered moving to a different brick-and-mortar location. The first question a commercial realtor asked us was, “what is your sales per square foot?”
I’m sure the look on my face said it all! Her question is what first prompted me to fall into the Google black hole. To save you the hassle, I’d love to share what sales per square foot means, how to calculate it, and empower you to make decisions based on this critical information.
What is Sales Per Square Foot?
Sales Per Square Foot—also known as SPSF—is an indicator of how efficiently a retailer uses its assets (merchandising, floor layout, salespeople, etc.) to make sales.
Put simply, SPSF is the amount of revenue your retail business generates per every square foot of selling space in your store. The higher the SPSF, the better.
How to Calculate Your Sales Per Square Foot
Thankfully, SPSF is not complicated to calculate. It’s a simple division problem.
First, you need to calculate the square footage of your store. You don’t want to include storage rooms, basements, or hallways. You’re only measuring the square footage where you sell products.
Grab a tape measure and a friend or team member. Then measure from one side of your store to the next in feet. If it’s a narrow storefront, this could be 15-20 feet. Then measure from the front of your store to the back. If it’s a long and narrow store, this could be 80 feet.
As an example: let’s say the store is 20 feet wide x 50 feet deep. Multiply 20 x 50, and that’s 1000 square feet.
Yes, it’s that simple!
If your store is an old home or has multiple rooms, then you’ll have to measure every space and then add those up.
Again, remember that you only want to measure RETAIL SALES SPACE.
Next, you’ll need to know your annual revenue. You can either pull up your Profit & Loss Statement to find our total revenue for the past 12 months or run a report in your POS system to get this number.
Finally, take your total annual sales and divide it by the retail square footage in your store.
For example, a store with $100,000 in sales for the year with 1,000 square feet of selling space has an SPSF of $100 (100,000 ÷ 1000 = 100).
What the Research Says About Sales Per Square Foot for Indie Retailers
In 2018, I decided to do some research on SPSF. After hours of Google searches, I found that publicly traded retail companies have to report their SPSF.
An Apple store has an incredibly high average SPSF of $5000+. The average mall store tends to average $400-800 SPSF. But indie retailers aren’t Apple or even a successful mall store!
Pair this with the fact that many retailers hold this information close to the chest. There was SO little information on this topic—especially for a retailer like me looking to establish benchmarks or a baseline.
So in the early days of my blog and a free FB group that I had at the time, I hosted an anonymous survey. Even with offering anonymity, I only had 15 responses. It wasn’t much to work with, but I was happy to get some data.
Three years later, I decided to rerun the survey. This time I received 41 responses.
I ran the survey because it helps to know what others in our industry are generating per square foot. Knowledge is power. And although this was NOT a scientific study, and I can’t validate or confirm responses, the findings are helpful, and I want you to view it that way, too.
This is NOT meant to be the comparison game. And I certainly don’t want you to feel bad about your SPSF!
The Median SPSF for Independent Retailers
So with that, I want to share the median results of the survey for both square footage and SPSF.
The median is calculated by taking the “middle” value, the value for which half of the observations are larger and half are smaller. When extreme values are possible, the median is generally the better measure to use.
The median square footage from the responses I’ve collected is 1000 square feet.
The median SPSF is $188.
One thing to note is that this is just information. Knowledge is power! You might use this as a benchmark or maybe you already surpassed this and that’s awesome!
What Your Numbers Mean Compared to Other Shopkeepers
So what does this mean? This means you have an idea of the median SPSF other Savvy Shopkeepers are making per square foot.
This doesn’t have to be the baseline for you. Remember, retail “success” is subjective and different for each of us. SPSF is only ONE metric to consider when you want your retail business to grow.
Other Resources On Sales Per Square Foot
If you’re a current member of The Shopkeeper’s Lab or Master Shopkeepers, head to the Lab to find a series of blog posts on this topic. They cover why knowing your SPSF is valuable and how to use it. There’s also an upcoming live lesson on the rest of the survey results coming to the Lab in March.
And if you hate math and love the easy-to-use calculators in the Lab, there’s one to help you calculate SPSF too! You’ll find it under the Calculators module.
I hope this post encourages you to measure the retail selling space of your store, get your total revenue for a year, calculate your SPSF, and start tracking this! If you’re looking to grow—and I know most of you are!—knowing this metric about your own business is critical.
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- Want access to practical, applicable, and custom-made resources for shopkeepers and makers? The Shopkeeper’s Lab is open year-round.
- [06:19] What is Sales Per Square Foot?
- [07:02] How to Calculate Your Sales Per Square Foot
- [11:14] What the Research Says About Sales Per Square Foot for Indie Retailers
- [16:36] What Your Numbers Mean Compared to Other Shopkeepers
New information to me! Never heard of it before this. I did my calculations using the data from 2021 and my old store. I hope it will improve at my new location which has less square footage and more foot traffic. I am optimistic. So for my own clarity, this number is just informational correct? Does it have anything to do with where your placement of merchandise in terms of generating more sales or revenue?
Hi Darlene, the result from the survey is “informational” but SPSF is a valuable tool for retailers. Since you’re a Lab member, I recommend logging into the Academy to read all the content on SPSF. You can use the search box! You’ll find at least 3 lessons in there on this topic.