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Are popup shops redefining retail?

But what is a pop-up shop? Why have they started appearing on our high streets and in our major stores?

It seems like the UK’s high streets have been in decline for decades but, in the last few years, a new type of retail in the form of pop-up shops is starting to take the UK market by storm. This flourishing industry is already worth over £2 billion and almost 1% of total retail turnover, demonstrating both its immediate impact and the massive potential for rapid growth and expansion.

But what is a pop-up shop? Why have they started appearing on our high streets and in our major stores? What has led to the massive rise in pop-up retail outlets and some of the fast-growing companies helping them flourish.

What is a pop-up shop?

Pop-up shops are spaces used to sell merchandise or goods and services of any kind for a temporary period. They started appearing around the world in the 1990s mainly in large urban cities like New York, Tokyo, and London and began to transform the way we think about traditional brick-and-mortar shops. They target areas with high foot-traffic to maximise profits in a short period with anywhere from 3 days to 3 months in one place.

Pop-up shops have been used to sell pretty much anything you can imagine, from the work of local artists to ground-breaking tech gadgets and from fashion pieces to delicious food. Pop-up shops aim to be as creative as possible with space, time, and what they offer making them far more engaging than you bog-standard shop or shopping centre. Pop-up stores also tend to cost far less and a traditional store although the rental costs are usually paid up front.

As well as targeting areas with high foot-fall like city centres, shopping malls, and street festivals, pop-up stores are often used to launch a new product, generate and raise awareness of a brand, rapidly flog inventory, or enable people to test out working with new people in a new and innovative way, such as YO! Sushi opening up sushi counters in Tesco stores in a shared pilot scheme. This highlights the fact that people still want brands they can trust.

Why have pop-up shops started springing up?

With the threat of closures to all 166 Debenhams stores — the British department store that was founded in 1778 — following on from the closure of every single Woolworths — the UK’s iconic retailer which had over 800 outlets in operation at the time of closure — everything that seemed stable in the retail world has melted into the air. This in large part due to the impact of the internet and the change this has had on consumer habits.

Indeed, consumers have become increasingly averse to owning things and commit their money to long-term investments, leading to things like the subscription economy also booming. This has led to concomitant changes in the retail estate industry where there has been a vast proliferation in short-term leases as businesses seek to cater to people seeking unique experiences and experiential retail.

However, retail has been on such a downward spiral that even e-commerce sites are suffering sales losses. Indeed, online businesses have started to find profits hard to come by with Asos announcing an 87% fall in profits in 2019 compared to the previous year. This has also seen e-businesses begin to take a look at the industry they have been credited with bringing to its knees, with companies as wide-ranging as Blue Apron and Spotify getting in on the action of pop-up exhibits.

Amazon has gone one step further spending more than $13 billion of its capital to acquire the physical-store retailer Whole Foods having already taken control of half of all online purchases in the USA. With traditional leasing models becoming too expensive and risky, the pop-up explosion is seemingly around the corner but who is offering the real estate to power this pop-up shop revolution?

Who is fuelling the pop-up revolution?

There are a range of savvy suppliers who have got ahead of the game and noticed the opportunity that providing pop-up real estate venues has to offer. Here we take a look at three of the best companies bringing the pop-up world to life:

With spaces for hire in London, Paris, and New York City, these guys make booking a plot for your pop-up store as easy as booking a hotel room. With over 180,000 brands having utilised their service these guys hook up landlords with big business contracts and brands with a wide array of the world’s best retail spaces. The demand for spaces in London alone saw 3,000 pop-up spaces last year creating over 33 million pounds worth of demand.

With spaces all over Europe, we are pop-up makes it easy to find spaces, collaborate and expand your brand and boasts the world’s largest network of retailers, real-estate owners, and brands to collaborate with for exciting ventures in pop-up retail experiences. We are pop-up also offer the opportunity for small businesses to rent rails, tables, windows, and shelves in boutique stores for a fee that makes growing your business in collaboration with others a win-win.

With spaces across the UK, offer pop-up entrepreneurs the opportunity to enjoy unusual spaces to host events, throw parties, or take fine dining to another level. They even provide luxurious venues in places like the Shard in London offering small businesses the opportunity to take advantage of prime retail locations for minimal rents.

Whether brands are launching in a new market, or starting from scratch, pop-up shops are fast becoming the way to do it. Changes in consumer demand and the transformation of retail brought about by the internet boom have challenged the traditional bricks-and-mortar approach to retail. This has led to a massive growth in pop-up shops offering everything you can dream of in new and inventive ways.

Pop-up stores offer brands old and new the opportunity to collaborate in exciting and creative ways in spaces that wouldn’t usually be a venue and allows them to maximise profits by targeting areas or periods of higher demands.