Independent retailers and restaurant owners who compete against massive chains have long felt that being small offers an advantage in terms of greater personalization. But now big retail and restaurant chains are honing in on what's been the independent advantage:-They're testing smaller locations, reports the Kansas City Star.

Huge corporations including Best Buy, the Gap, Kohl's, Lowe's and Sports Authority are among the retail chains testing smaller-sized stores. In the foodservice arena, Houlihan's and Sweet Tomatoes are two chains trying smaller eateries.

What's behind the trend? The recession is one big motivator. Smaller stores cost less to lease, build or remodel, making it easier to get financing for them. They also have lower overhead costs to run and require fewer employees. Smaller footprints give chains more flexibility in finding locations in crowded markets. And if the store's sales aren't up to par, it's easier for the company close the location without a huge loss.

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