EE conducted a poll in 2015 which indicated that almost a third of new businesses planning to start up would do so as pop-up shops. In August 2016, the Guardian reported that shop vacancies in the UK had risen above 10%, partly due to a fall in pop-up shops.
Are pop-up shops, therefore, a passing trend, or a more resilient indicator of a dynamic economy?
What are the Marketing and Business Benefits of Pop-up Shops?
Launching a pop-up shop is a way of testing your business offering in very real terms. It provides certain marketing opportunities and, if done right, a powerful launch-pad for your brand.
Pop-up shops have been the basis for well-established brands, such as Innocent Drinks. They also offer economies of scale for smaller businesses starting out.
Pop-up shops combine affordability – they are usually temporary, and smaller than conventional retail shops – with a short-term commitment and greater flexibility. They can, for example, concentrate their trading activity at key, busy times then shut up shop for the quieter months.
They can also generate a certain wow factor in marketing terms, working to draw crowds and creating a buzz that normal, fixed shops are not easily able to do. This buzz helps establish a sense of urgency, which encourages consumers to more readily buy from the pop-up shop.
As pop-ups have become a more regular feature on the UK high street, consumers have come to expect a unique experience from them, a certain uniqueness they would not expect to get form a conventional, bricks and mortar shop.
Providing they can meet this expectation, pop-up retailers are poised to take advantage of the inherent marketability of the concept.
Enablement and Diversity
Short-term leases can prove a challenge to retailers, if they are unable to convert them into agreed, longer term commitments. It is this that contributes to a higher vacancy rate on high streets. However, it may also be a reflection of seasonal trends, and the very agility and flexibility that can make pop-up shops successful may make them likely to vacate premises during certain periods.
In fact, short-term leases can be beneficial to enabling smaller traders to start up, as there is less of a barrier to them setting up and establishing themselves in a pop-up environment.
There is also an opportunity for town centres to have greater diversity in retail and, ultimately, to increase their footfall accordingly.
There is a degree of unpredictability about pop-up shops. Could they offer a nimble and dynamic response to the seemingly unstoppable growth of internet shopping, and may prove to be the salvation of many physical retailers?