My experience from Tesco, Sainsburys, ASDA, Waitrose and M&S show that in every single store the format is always different. Either completely mirrored, flipped on itself, some products coupled with others in a different way, and freezer/fridge aisles sometimes together sometimes apart, sometimes by the entrance, sometimes in the middle. Why is that if there are now defined principles in what you should place where, and even if each company believed in different principles, why doesnt each company at least standardise their own stores?
They are the same in a general manner, such as produce to one end, dairy in the back of the store, dry and canned goods in center aisles. The specifics are due to size/ space constraints and other factors of the building.
In addition to other answes, the customer base is also factored in.
For example, when you walk into a Target, whose demographic is women, you see things women are drawn to (in general): women’s clothing, jewelry, foundations, shoes, gift cards.
Move to the opposite corner of the store for ‘guy’ things like electronics, sports gear, tools, fixit things you can’t even see from the entrance.
Then there is the hard-flooring racetrack around the store for getting at grab-and-go things like branded foods, detergents, personal care where no decisions are involved. You always buy Crest toothpaste and Tide detergent, so it’s easy to find and grab just off the racetrack. If you get deep off the racetrack, you find things where you will need to stop and think and choose, like clothing, toys, small appliances and baby items. Clothing areas are carpeted because it reflects a higher end experience that customers prefer when shopping clothes.
A different big store like Walmart has a different customer base (lower income, with younger kids) so you will see loss-leaders and seasonal stuff like school supplies by the entrance, but a similar racetrack for common items and carpeted clothing areas.
1 Store size. Different stores are different sizes, and shapes depending on the area they are situated and the availble space/ planned market.. What works for one floor plan doesn’t neccesarily work for another.
2 customers. Customers in different areas like different things, so different branches carry different products, and or different stock levels. This means certain types of product need more space in some stores then others.
3 There’s more then one possible arrangement that works well.
4 They do tend to have LOTS of things in common. Walk into any supermarket. Fresh Fruit and Veg is almost always the first thing you come to. Dairy products are always kept together. Dental and medical supplies are in the same isle, sweets biscuits and crisps are next to one another. And so on.