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How Big are Big-Box Stores?

| Written by admin | 1 Comment | Updated on Dec 23, 2008 The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/how-big-are-bigbox-stores/

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Wal-Mart and Target are currently building “supercenters,” which combine their usual array of merchandise with a full supermarket and numerous specialty services from cut flowers to eye glasses. Supercenters typically range from 180,000 to 250,000 square feet, or between 4.1 to 5.7 acres. The parking lots that surround these stores are several times the size of the store itself. Many other big box retail stores—including earlier-generation Wal-Mart outlets, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Office Depot, Bed Bath & Beyond, etc.—are in the 60,000 to 140,000 square foot range. Barnes & Noble and Borders Books stores range from 25,000 to 45,000 square feet, or about the size of a very large supermarket. Free-standing chain drugstores operated by Walgreens, Rite Aid, and CVS are generally 11,000-15,000 square feet.

Asfor independent retailers, there’s quite a range. Many Main Street stores are under 1,000 square feet. A full-service neighborhood grocery store might be 10,000 square feet. Locally owned hardware stores generally range from 2,000 to 20,000 square feet. An independent bookstore might be 1,500 square feet.

A growing number of cities and towns are adopting store size caps to ensure that new retail development is scaled appropriately for the community and does not overwhelm the local economy or exacerbate sprawl and traffic congestion. Most communities choose an upper limit of between 35,000 and 75,000 square feet.

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See our fact sheet: How Big is Too Big?

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