Pop-up shops: the answer to slow retail?

A pop up shop is a loose term to describe a temporary shop. A ‘young’ concept, in the last 15 years their popularity has increased as retailers discover their potential.

As retailers tried to get back on their feet after the Christchurch earthquake, many chose containers for their temporary stores

A relatively inexpensive investment

The advantage of a pop-up retail event is that there is no long lease commitment. Sometimes a popup shop will run for a couple of weeks, sometimes a few months but never more than 1 year.  The average length of time a popup shop is open is approximately 3 months (a retail season).

Also, a popup shop is not restricted to a typical shop front application. Companies have used shipping containers, tents, busses and even more unexpected places. Alternatively a pop-up shop may be inside a larger store, (sometimes called ‘pop-in’ shops ). For example, Nordstrom in the US subleases areas of their stores for designers to showcase their products. These areas are often less expensive than an equivalent stand-alone store.

Because they are temporary by nature, pop-up shops have different requirements for fixtures. There may be more emphasis on budget, because the investment only has 3 months to pay off. The fixtures don’t need the same level of longevity as a normal retail fit out would require, however there needs to be an effective appearance.


High end retailers will often host a pop-up shop to connect with the general public in  a more personal way

Who’s behind most pop-up shops?

Retailers testing the market with new designs, wanting publicity, or trying a different location are behind most popup shops.  Some brands and companies who don’t usually dabble in bricks ‘n’ mortar retail will launch a popup shop for a few weeks to allow consumers to make a connection with the brand. Clothing and other products sold in them are usually limited editions, a diffusion line for an upmarket brand, and collaboration between two or more creatives.

Online companies use pop-up shops to give their customers an opportunity to view and touch the products in real life. There is a lot more festivity surrounding a popup shop than a standard store, with experiential activities, special guests and media attention.

A pop-up shop doesn’t need expensive fixtures or signage…

Should you start a pop-up shop?

For online retailers looking for the next step a pop-up shop is a great idea. You already have a loyal customer base, and your brand popularity is on the increase. You are dominating the digital realm and now you need to look into bringing the ‘real-world’ consumers on board.

For a brand that wants to try something new, a pop-up shop is also a good way to take the plunge. You are wanting to attract a different demographic, your current store isn’t being talked about like it used to be. A pop-up store is a great publicity boost to your shop and maybe far more effective than a pure advertising campaign.

However, like any investment there is no guarantee that a pop-up shop will work. if you don’t like taking risks you might prefer to avoid a temporary investment like this. But remember,  in this world of fast fashion they attract today’s consumers  and often give truth to the old saying “Fortune Favours the Bold”.

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