Limited Location stores – the saviour of the high street?

Being a big camera fan I was sad to see the demise of Jessops earlier – another casualty of the high street.  We are getting used to seeing our high street retail units chop and change as one business fails and another one gives it a go.

According to The Guardian, every day 20 shops are closing on our high streets.

In the last couple of years, I have been interested in the retail world to see the ever growing trend of pop-up shops springing up in the high street. Even the Government have been joining in on the action, by opening a pop-up shop inside the Department for Communities and Local Government to allow fledging businesses a chance to showcase their wares. (You can read more here on Housing Minister Mark Prisk’s blog, or on Retail Week

However, blink and you can miss them! With some of them being around for only a matter of days, and some being around for up to 6 months, it is clear that the ‘short term let’ is becoming a viable alternative for landlords to let shops out rather than them to remain empty and fall into disrepair for months on end.

We were lucky enough to work with Tesco to understand the customer reaction to one of their experiments in the pop up shop arena (read the blog here: QR Codes, iPads and Virtual Fitting Rooms) – with the F&F Clothing Pop Up store in Covent Garden in June 2012. This is just one example of many that the pop-up shop is being embraced by big brands and small independent brands alike.

Retailers are investing in new ideas and experimental retailing without the commitment of a long-term let, which I think is a great thing for the high street in a time when consumer habits are constantly evolving. It also provides a fantastic opportunity for creative agencies to push the boat out and work with retailers to design and implement a new concept store, and often against an extremely challenging deadline – good to get the adrenaline going I expect!

It also provides great opportunities for strong brands to test the retail space if they haven’t before. I enjoyed seeing that Marmite opened a pop-up shop on Regent Street before Christmas way back in 2009 – as I am newly converted to the ‘Love It’ side of the Marmite Camp I wish I had known about this shop while it was open!

And there-in lies a major issue. If pop-up shops are only in one location in the UK and only for a short period of time, what is the real impact?

How much of a success can just one shop really be? Clearly a pop-up shop can be promoted on social media to get as much publicity as possible from it, but is that enough?

We are seeing a lot of pop-up shops open up in London – obviously excellent for PR purposes – but not many ‘out in the sticks’ of non-London. Or perhaps I’ve not been very observant?

We are currently working on a very interesting project for one of clients who is new to the world of retail. They have launched their first pop-up shop and we are now tasked with finding the answer to the question, how long is long enough to keep a pop-up open for? We hope to be able to share some of our findings in the future.

Interested in pop-up retail? Have a read of the Pop-Up Britain website

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Amy Nichols
01962 842211
Article date - 05/03/2013
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