Action points for retailers:


Premium retailers Apple and Burberry top this year’s ranking, while Aldi is the best performing food retailer.

Top 30 retailers

RankRetailerSales per sq ft
1 Apple £3,250
2 Burberry £2,300
3 Game £1,300
4 Selfridges £1,230
5 Harrods £1,200
6 Aldi £1,170
=6 Space NK
8 Liberty £1,165
9 Conviviality £1,030
10 Tesco £985
11 Waitrose  £960
12 Asda £950
13 Lidl £940
14 Sainsbury’s £940
15 Ted Baker £885
16 Morrisons £880
17 Boux Avenue £860
18 Booths £850
19 Office £850
20 Lush £775
21 Zara £745
22 Fortnum & Mason £710
23 Jessops £700
24 TM Lewin £695
25 Sweaty Betty £690
26 Oliver Bonas £670
27 Dixons Carphone £660
28 Kurt Geiger £650
29 Holland & Barrett £615
30 Dune £610

Data compiled by Retail Week Prospect shows that Apple’s retail operation continues to generate the highest level of sales densities in the UK. Its sales per square foot of £3,250 is around 40% higher than the number two retailer, Burberry.

Apple benefits from the high price points of its offer, however investment in its UK store network has also been scaled back now that it has achieved a good coverage across the country.

Having a more mature store network generally makes it easier to achieve high sales densities as new stores need time to bed in.

Apart from Game, the top five is exclusively made up of upmarket retailers, with luxury department store rivals Selfridges and Harrods coming in at position four and five respectively. Food retailers are also heavily represented within the top 15, with German discounter Aldi taking the highest position, as it did in last year’s ranking.

Gains to be made in merchandising

More upmarket retailers find it easier to achieve high sales per square footage as they benefit from relatively high average transaction values.

But the same can be said for retailers that operate from compact stores or have a substantial presence through concessions such as Conviviality, Kurt Geiger and Oliver Bonas.

Having said that, there are strategic initiatives that businesses can take to boost their performance.

For instance retailers including Lush and Mamas & Papas are using footfall intelligence such as heat maps to find out which areas of their stores are performing best and taking merchandising decisions based on that.

Harnessing click-and-collect to increase dwell time

Click-and-collect is also proving to be an important tool to increase store productivity.

House of Fraser has noted that the launch of its ‘queue busting’ check-in service – where click-and-collect customers are given a specific time to collect their order once they have entered a store – has been helping to increase dwell time and consequently the level of unplanned sales.

Meanwhile Sainsbury’s commented in its most recent results that its supermarkets that have introduced Argos digital stores – where online orders can be collected – achieved a 1% to 2% uplift in sales.

Customer experience

There is also much to be said for taking a more service-led approach in stores, particularly now that many customers that know what they want will shop online anyway.

It is perhaps no coincidence that new John Lewis boss Paula Nickolds has ambitions to introduce services such as beauty salons and one-on-one consultations with expert staff.

Holland & Barrett – ranked 29th in this list – also sees the value in this. It invests heavily in its staff training as part of its ‘qualified to advise’ mantra, which is helping to drive additional purchases as well as reinforce its USP of having deep product knowledge.

Online growth

Retail Week Prospect calculates sales densities by excluding ecommerce turnover. As a result many retailers have seen their sales per square foot come under pressure in recent years as online is taking a greater share of overall sales.

Nevertheless, these figures remain a key measure of a store’s productivity and are widely used by both retailer management teams and within the property sector.


Sales densities were calculated by taking a retailer’s total sales and excluding online revenues.

This figure was divided by the total average square footage of the retailer’s stores and concessions during the year.

The average square footage takes into account store openings and closures during a given year, which might otherwise skew the figures.

The latest available financial data has been used for each retailer.