“The World for a Crooked Street”: Towards a Supermarket Morphology of Shopping Aisles and Retail Layout

Lene Granzau Juel-Jacobsen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The influence of the built environment and interior design on consumer behavior has increasingly caught the interest of marketers and retailers, however, specific features of the retail environment remain relatively unnoticed and under-researched, possibly because they have been incorporated into everyday life to such an extent that they have come to be taken for granted. In particular, the straight aisles and gridiron layout have become the dominating principle in the organization of supermarket space. Ever since the first supermarket appeared, the gridiron layout has prevailed, and one may be led to believe that, for this reason alone, it has stood the test of time. This article argues that this may not always have been the case, and today even less so. The article assesses the frequent and common arguments for straight aisles and gridiron layouts, revealing a logic that does not stand further examination. A straight street appears innocent and commonsensical at first sight, but they have provoked great emotions and intense disputes during the history of architecture and urban studies. Today, retailers as well as interior designers may well consider the implications of the form and outline of shopping aisles for in-store customer behavior. Having consulted the legacy of urban planning and architectural history, and assessing the empirical evidence, it becomes clear that the underlying logic of the straight aisle may not serve the supermarket and its patrons as intended, nor serve them unequivocally well.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInteriors: Design, Architecture and Culture
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)59-89
Number of pages31
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


  • Interior design
  • Supermarket
  • Retail settings
  • Layout
  • Grid
  • Atmospherics
  • Servicescape
  • Shopping aisles
  • Consumer behavior

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