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Market Visits

The Latest Phenomenon: Pop-Up Shops

Flash retailing has become a popular concept. This is a new breed of pop-up shops, far from the tacky, messy seasonal shops that appear around a festive holiday.

21st February 2014

These are local, quirky, designer and intriguing.

The saviour of the declining high street?

There is a continuing discussion regarding the death of the high street, with the prime suspects being out-of-town shopping centres and of course online. Add the current global recession into the mix, and the situation looks even worse.

Not only may these relatively new and increasingly popular pop-up shops save the British high street, it’s possible they’ll have the sufficient longevity to avoid succumbing to the same fate as our befallen high street classics. The government launching “meanwhile use” lease contracts mean units left empty can be filled on a temporary basis. This is allowing smaller businesses, usually from the local area, to display their products and get their name out there. It has become apparent in this day and age that consumer tastes are forever changing. With no warning of the longevity of each trend, the pop-up shop concept is adaptable to this capricious market. As products come and go so do the shops that sell them. They can now be found across the whole country in towns and cities.

Boutique Shopping

Rising retailers such as teastained Lil and Natalie Teare are facilitated by schemes such as PopUp Britain to open pop-up shops in various locations. PopUp Britain supports their efforts to bolster their online brand in a cost-effective way, and helps them avoid prohibitive permanent rent costs. This ability to embrace new locations to set up shops allows retailers to change their lay out and the way they use space, helping them test what works well for their consumers and for the brand.

Unsurprisingly, Alexandra Heywood, founder of teastained Lil, is a big fan: “The pop-up revolution has completely redefined our business model and given us a quick, cost-effective and creative route to the high street. We are able to expand our customer base, test products and interact with customers, which is so important in a small business’s development; and that’s all within a flexible and versatile working space, one which we are to brand and dress accordingly. We only wish more landlords would embrace this way of working and present small business with more pop-up solutions.”

On a bigger scale… Pop-up malls

The world’s first declared pop-up mall, BOXPARK, is located in Shoreditch, London, and opened in 2011 on a five-year lease. It is self-proclaimed to accept “any retailer that is doing something a little different”. This invites a wide range of outlets from established brands to less well-known names. The mall is constructed using 60 shipping containers: 40 of these are on the lower level, and house shops, whilst the remaining 20 on the upper level offering food, drinks and meeting space. This cargotecture concept adheres to the environmentally-friendly trends of today’s society. The container design makes changing store hosts a straight forward process, with no disassembly required, offers retailers have a blank canvas to display their unique style through decoration and their products.

Location Location Location

For pop-up shops, location is crucially important. The brand can have as little as a fortnight  to make an impact, meaning there’s no time to build loyalty among customers, and for them  to change their shopping route in order to seek them out. Pitches in low footfall areas may  not be worth the initial investment from a start-up. Often retailers in locations with high  rent costs are the most vulnerable-leaving vacant store space available on the most sought after streets in the UK; and this is where a start-up can grab the bargain of the century if the timing is right.

A walk along many previously bustling but now semi-derelict high streets can leave you feeling uncomfortable and depressed. Pop-up shops to the rescue – it can be the perfect antidote to consumers who have had their fill of charity shops – and offers a viable outlet for new-look consumables.

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