Pop-up shops are having a moment. From M&S’s September menswear outlet “Mike and Tom”, to Banksy’s permanently closed ‘Gross Domestic Product’ store, these shops have quite literally popped up all over the UK this summer, and they show no sign of disappearing as we approach the gifting season. Could short-term stores be the long-term saviour of the high street?
PwC reported that an average of sixteen high street stores closed a day at the start of the year as people shop online more. However, these temporary shops have become a fixture of the evolving retail ecosystem. Both offline and online brands are utilising them to provide engaging ways of shopping that they wouldn’t be able to offer otherwise. As a result, the pop-up industry in the UK is now worth over £2.3bn.
Whilst online provides convenience, these brick and mortar stores offer something more: an experience. Compared with traditional stores, the temporary nature of the ‘pop-up’ approach means there’s no room for a ‘slow-burn’ in this space – brands have a limited time frame within which to attract and convert consumers. Additionally, pop-ups not only allow brands to test out products and gather insights on their consumers, but they offer quirky interactive spaces in which businesses can generate organic social media buzz.
Somewhat counter-intuitively, it is frequently online brands moving offline; both Facebook and Amazon have set up pop-ups, proving the value of a physical store. This summer, fashion retailer Zalando also opened a virtual pop-up store in Madrid, which featured no actual clothes but allowed customers to try on outfits using projection technology, whilst marketplace app Depop launched a physical space in London’s Selfridges. Pop-up shop partnerships can clearly be used to drive a younger audience through the doors of more established stores.
Now that summer is over, Christmas is just around the corner! With festive markets a kind of forerunner to the phenomenon, pop-ups during this period are nothing new. However as the high street competes with online competitors for consumers’ business, pop-up shops offer the perfect way for retailers to think creatively. John Lewis for instance have recently opened a number of in-shop pop-ups with a gifting focus, including a KitKat Chocolatory and Quality Street Pick ‘n Mix bar.
We can expect to see many more pop-ups spring up over the next few months, as retailers endeavour to appeal to consumers searching for exclusive personalised gifts. Beyond revenue, when done right, these shops create social value in the form of online engagement as consumers seek to gain a ‘grammable experience!