Pop-ups now a permanent retail fixture

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Brought to you by Retail Insider and K3 Retail

When pop-ups first appeared on the retail landscape they seemed to have more than a whiff of short-term fad about them. They looked to be a very temporary solution to fill the numerous empty shop spaces that had become features across the UK’s high streets in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008.

Brands used them as promotional vehicles. By taking a shop space for a few weeks they could use it to market a specific product or highlight a new launch. And small independents grabbed the chance to set up a temporary store ahead of it being inevitably assigned to an established retailer (with a strong covenant) on a ludicrously long lease.

But things have not panned out quite like this. Pop-ups are now a feature of the high street and shopping malls. As long leases have become increasingly unpopular and shoppers have become bored with identikit high streets – containing the same old boring shops – landlords have wised-up and realised pop-up shops from interesting independent merchants add massively to the retailing mix.


They pop-up here, they pop-up there.

Such has been the rise of pop-up retail that it is now worth £2.3 billion per year to the UK economy (according to research from CEBR and EE) and employs 26,000 people who work for a total of 10,000 pop-ups at any one time.

What is interesting is how there has been an increasing blurring between traditional retailers and pop-ups as the survey also found that eight per cent of the established retailers surveyed revealed they had launched a pop-up over the past year, while 10 per cent are planning to do so in the next five years.

In addition, online-only brands have been prominent users of pop-ups in order to give themselves a physical presence for a period of time, which has enabled them to test products and use the store to raise awareness as they look to expand their businesses into new areas.

The pop-up genie has well and truly escaped from the long-lease bottle and there is no way he is going to be forced back into that confined and restrictive structure.

Glynn Davis, editor, Retail Insider

K3 Retail deliver multi-channel solutions that enable retailers to create joined up shopping experiences for their customers whether they choose to buy on-line, direct, in-store or via mobile. It has over 20 years’ experience delivering award winning solutions, to more than 175 internationally recognised retail brands.