El Segundo, Calif.-based Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is test marketing a small format store, hoping to reach consumers in urban markets where their traditional stores do not fit.

The Fresh & Easy Express stores under development, around 3,000 square feet, are under development in Southern California, said Brendan Wonnacott, a spokesman for Fresh & Easy. The stores are targeted to neighborhoods that can’t accommodate the standard 10,000 square foot stores, he said.Fresh & Easy plans small format for urban customers

“We’re still in the early stages of development on these stores, but Fresh & Easy will offer everything that our customers have come to love about Fresh & Easy, just in a smaller footprint,” he said.

The emphasis will be on a range of fresh foods at “affordable” prices, Wonnacott said, including prepared meals, fresh produce, meat and poultry, frozen foods and other daily staples.

Wonnacott said it is “too early to say at this point” when the first Fresh & Easy Express will open, but the blog site Fresh & Easy Buzz said it will open in San Pedro, Calif., later this year.

Fresh & Easy also reportedly plans to bring its well-known loyalty program to the U.S. According to news reports, the “Friends of Fresh & Easy” program will be an e-mail based loyalty system where participants earn points for every dollar spent and sign up for coupons.

Since Fresh & Easy’s new chief executive officer Phillip Clarke took over in April, the retailer reportedly boosted its fresh prepared meal options, tweaked its layout by adding wooden flooring and flower stands and increased its fresh offerings.