Retail Fit-Out Guide: What is a Fit-Out and How to Plan One?

A high end retail fitout of a modern clothing store within a large shopping centre.

How your shop feels to customers and employees is crucial if you want to create a welcoming environment. There are numerous factors to consider when deciding if your retail location needs some physical improvements.

If you think making your store more comfortable for shoppers and staff is unnecessary because ‘everyone is shopping online’, you are mistaken. A report from early December 2023 shows that 73 per cent of Australians prefer shopping in brick-and-mortar stores to shopping online.

This is not the time to shrug and give up on building the best physical location possible. A retail fit-out can dramatically impact your business by increasing foot traffic, creating a positive buzz, and enhancing employee performance.

What is a Retail and Store Fit-Out?

A retail fit-out is the process of refurbishing a store to improve form and functionality while providing employees and customers with a positive experience. A fit-out can include several options, including but not limited to:

  • Updating lighting
  • Restore the existing surface or refloor
  • Painting, papering, texturising, or other wall enhancements
  • Creating individual areas to assist with organising merchandise
  • Fitting a drop ceilings

The over-arching goal of a retail fit-out is creating a spacious and luminous backdrop to enhance shoppers’ experiences and put them in a buying frame of mind.

Six Benefits of a Retail Shop Fit-Out

  1. Improved Efficiency – When your store is optimally designed, you and your team will not need to waste time and energy shuffling through randomly placed stock or uncategorised paperwork.
  2. Expanded Safety – A retail fit-out will allow for checks on your shop’s electrical systems, sprinklers, and other vital inner workings.
  3. Increased Employee Morale – A pleasant workplace goes a long way in improving morale amongst workers. Additionally, an excellent retail fit-out will make doing the job easier for your employees.
  4. Enhanced Brand Image – When your shop has a retail fit-out, the improvements will create a stronger positive brand image. Among other things, this will make you stand out above your competitors.
  5. Improved Customer Experience – When your customers feel at ease in your shop and enjoy spending time there, you can expect them to stay longer, return, and tell others about their experience.
  6. Increased Sales – Because your customers are comfortable and have a good frame of mind for buying, your sales will increase.

A well-executed retail and store fit-out is crucial for attracting customers, maximizing sales, and providing a positive overall shopping experience.

How Do You Plan a Shop Fit-Out?

The most efficient way to work out a fit-out for your shop is by taking the time to do some planning.

  • Define your purpose – What are the reasons you want a retail fit-out? If you can answer this, you will be able to create a focused plan that will take less time and money while meeting your goals.
  • Set your budget – You can quickly become so impressed with everything available to you that you toss restraint out the window. A reasonable budget can help you reign yourself in and focus first on the must-haves of the project.
  • Create a timeline – A timeline of specific milestones will help you tick off steps towards the final goal. It is normal for a project to have a setback or two, but you will be less stressed about slowdowns if you can see progress.
  • Stay organised- Have a copy of the project progress plan so you can see what is happening and the rate of progression towards the finished project.
  • Work with professionals – No matter the size of your shop, you should take steps to ensure that the workers completing your retail fit-out are legitimate professionals with experience in projects similar to yours. Do not feel awkward asking for examples of past jobs or references.

Five Tips to Make the Most of Your Fit-Out

  1. Make the most of your lighting – With the technology available today, you can easily create a lighting mood that accentuates your brand.
  2. Remember your verticle space – Retailers often do not utilise the display opportunities that are available in verticle space. These do not need to be overwhelming but rather eye-catching and exciting to attract shoppers’ attention.
  3. Create the illusion of a larger, more open space with mirrors – Some well-placed mirrors can reflect light and open up smaller spaces.
  4. Tuck overstock in the back room – Do not place boxes of overstock items around the front of your store. This creates a messy warehouse look for your shop.
  5. Minimal fixtures – Everything on your shop floor should serve a purpose, or you should not have it out.

construction of a retail store

How Much Does a Shop Fit-Out Cost?

There is no single answer regarding how much a retail fit-out costs because several aspects will influence the price. These factors include:

  • Size of Your Shop – How great of an area you have makes a significant difference in the price of your retail fit-out. Numerous companies charge by square metre for their services, so it is wise to understand the pricing straight away.
  • Technological Needs – Business owners often forget the need for updated technology to improve employee job performance. Your requirements can vary significantly from others, so it is a tricky point to estimate. Additionally, you will want to ensure that your technology can be updated when necessary.
  • Supply-Chain Delays – While these have improved since the early post-pandemic days, these delays are typically unavoidable and can add to the cost of your retail fit-out.
  • Required Time-Frame – If you need your fit-out completed in short order, you can expect the price to increase exponentially from a much less pressing time. Planning far in advance can help you prevent additional expenses based on a need to rush the job.
  • Special Requests – Asking for structural changes, like wall removal, will raise your cost as well as the time frame of your fit-out. Your builders will need permits, and the project will require builders with unique skills.
  • Changing Your Mind – It is reasonable to expect extra charges for work being redone. Avoid this by taking your time and making your choices regarding paint, fabrics, materials used, and other details carefully.


As a retail business owner, you face numerous challenges each day. Do not let your establishment’s interior become one more challenge.

At DT Construction, we use our innovative skills and years of experience to design the ultimate retail fitout for your space. You can avoid shuffling around a crowded store, overwhelming your customers in the process. Contact our team of fit-out experts and let us help you create the store of your dreams.

Lauchlan Allen

With a project management background from two large construction companies, I want to build Penmaes and DTC into a successful, detail-oriented and safe construction company. I enjoy camping and travelling when I can manage some time away and have recently gotten married. I grew up with an architect father who runs a very successful firm out of Subiaco. My 3 brothers and I were brought up with constant new builds, projects and outdoor sports which now doesn’t surprise me that all of us are in the construction industry. With already nearly a decade of construction experience, I continue to learn new techniques and management styles that are imperative for the growth of a construction company. We have recently just completed an incredibly remote mine camp, this was something I had never done before but am incredibly grateful for the chance. I learnt a huge amount about the necessity to properly plan each move to maximise cost and efficiency. DTC and Penmaes have great futures that I am incredibly proud of already.