Location strategy: Why it still matters

“Location, location, location” is one of the oldest cliches in the retail business, but with more than a grain of truth. With traditional definitions of places to shop breaking down, is location still an important factor? In the context of Ulta cosmetics stores, I argue (on RetailWire) that it absolutely is:

I agree with George Anderson’s premise — that choice of location for a brick-and-mortar store is more important than ever. It’s always been true that the type of location reinforces a store’s brand image and competitive posture: For example, Apple always seemed to choose the “right malls” in a given market, and Walgreen’s model is built in part on a convenience strategy.

But the question of “what’s the right kind of shopping environment” is more complex than ever, and it’s not just triggered by the growth of omnichannel. Most metro areas have at least one secondary or even “zombie” mall; at the same time, consumers are drawn to newer formats like off-price/outlet malls and lifestyle centers. So Ulta is a good example of a retailer deciding strategically not to lock itself into the traditional mindset of “we have to be located just in regional malls.”

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