MarketLine Blog

Pop-up stores no longer a novelty?

A pop-up store is defined as a retail outlet that is created temporarily in a location for a short period of time. The first pop-up store was established by Russ Miller, with his company Vacant, in 1999. The case study Pop-Up Stores: A growing retail strategy’, describes how Miller was inspired to create the pop-up concept following a trip to Tokyo. The company wanted to test the theory that consumers would be eager to purchase limited-edition merchandise from niche retailers. The idea was that stores would open for a set period of time, selling one-off products, and then close, while popping up some time later in another location.

Prior to 2007, pop-up stores were largely seen as a novelty, with permanent stores dominating bricks and mortar retail. The majority of retailers were seeking property to lease on a long-term basis in locations with high consumer traffic. This has traditionally been the way that retail is carried out. However, since the pop-up concept was devised in 1999, this retail model has begun to expand to include not only individuals and small businesses, but also large multinational companies.

Pop-up retail has flourished as economic difficulties have led to rising store vacancy rates and a decline in consumer spending. Landlords and real estate companies, keen to fill their property, have become more receptive to the idea of short-term leases. Furthermore, many companies have been looking for ways to entice consumers to spend by generating some excitement around the whole retail experience.

Companies including Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, Kellogg’s, and Toys ‘R’ Us have all opened pop-up stores. Pop-up retail has become increasingly mainstream and expanded beyond apparel and fashion retail. There has been an explosion of pop-up restaurants, bars, clubs, grocery stores, and even hotels around the world.

It has been suggested by Russ Miller, the creator of Vacant and the pioneer of the pop-up retail sector, that the influx of large multinational companies and major brands to the sector may well spell the end of the appeal of pop up stores. A major part of the allure of pop-up stores to consumers has been the accessibility to local, artisanal produce. Pop-up stores were originally an alternative to shopping with the big multinationals but Miller suggests that the sector is in danger being saturated by multinational companies, which may lead to the over-use of pop-up stores as a retail tactic, thus turning consumers away.

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