Pop-Up Stores; A Force in Bricks and Mortar Retailing

19dz0isvbe1uajpgAdidas Pop-Up Store in London

Pop-Up Store – A retail store that is opened temporarily to take advantage of a trend or a seasonal product… Pop-up retail stores are found most often in the apparel and toy industries. – Investopedia

Pop-Up stores are not only here to stay but they are becoming a bigger, more interesting and highly entrepreneurial part of the retail landscape. Pop-Up stores arose, at least in part, from the 2008 recession and the decline in mall shopping. Commercial real estate owners were having difficulties filling empty retail spaces (bad for revenue and terrible for optics) so they turned to temporary leases in order to offset losses.

Retailers like Spencer's Gifts stepped in with its "Spirit Halloween" stores and other retailers like Toys R Us followed.  The Spirit Halloween stores now account for more than half of Spencers' revenues and the Pop Up industry, according to PopUp Republic now generates in excess of $10 billion in annual sales.

Hermes-opened-up-a-temporary-silk-bar-in-causeway-bayHermes Pop-Up Store in Hong Kong

It seems, at least according to New York Times writer Constance Gustke, in her article "Pop-Up Stores Thrive in a World of Failing Retailers", that Pop-Ups are joining e-commerce in taking market share away from our more venerable retailers.  As she puts it: "They do not need to sign long leases, stash away much cash or carry big credit lines." Their lack of overhead allows them to offer lower prices and their flexibility allows them to sell the unique and hard to find.

According to a Retail Touch Points, "Pop-Up Stores Become More Than Just A Trend", the reasons consumers are attracted to Pop-Up stores can be found in a poll conducted by Pop-Up Republic:

Looking for Seasonal Products    61%

Unique Services or Products    39%

Localized Assortments    36%

Optimal Pricing 34%

Convenience    33%

Fun    30%

Diet-coke-teamed-up-with-the-culinary-institute-of-america-to-kick-off-their-live-tastefully-campaign-in-both-boston-and-new-york-cityCoke Pop-Up Store in Boston


So popular has the format become that it has now evolved from taking advantage of a weak commercial real estate market to one of highly creative and in some cases mobile marketing. In somewhat the same way that food trucks have popularized high quality, quirky take-out food, mobile outlets are bringing products to a broader audience.  Here is how Ms. Gustke describes eyeglass purveyor Warby Parker's use of a bus: "The company turned a school bus into a traveling eyewear shop, tricking it out with leather couches, wood paneling and even vintage books, and then took it on the road trip across the country."

According to Business Insider, retailers as varied as Hermes, Adidas, Illy Coffee, Godiva Chocolates and Target are getting in on the act.

$10 billion is a small part of total retail sales but it would probably be wise for all of us to pay more attention to this trend as it not only offers interesting new outlets for our products but also because it threatens, along with e-commerce, to shrink sales at our more traditional outlets.

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