The pop-up stores turning into long-term retail businesses

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about ‘pop-up stores’, and have had conversations with people running and managing pop-ups. One of the key discussions to emerge is the reason for the location, and the longevity of the site.

I talked about the Santa Monica pop-up store (in a recent blog post) being at the back of a strip mall, in an area that had the lowest footfall, and thus lower sales and was most likely to see tenants leave because they couldn’t make it pay. What I didn’t say was that although the absolute location was poor in the mall, the mall itself was full of “anchor” tenants with very high footfall stores.

In Santa Monica a Nike store was one level down in the mall I visited. Not just any Nike store, but a hugely busy one that scheduled daily runs led by Nike staff; 50 to 60 people at a time. On the same level was an All Saints store, again busy and buzzy. Shopper volume wasn’t an issue, the challenge was to woo shoppers to ride the escalator one floor up and turn to the back of the mall to find the pop-up.

Well, walking through Sydney this week, I came across a pop-up clothing store that was on the main George St thoroughfare, and next door to the largest Apple store in Australia, a huge Telstra store and Louis Vuitton. Walk-by foot traffic was very high, and so too was the number of walk-in, impulse shoppers.

The outside of the store screamed bargain clothes and shoes, but the store itself was surrounded by many empty store fronts, in a single tenancy block. The pop-up had become the “anchor” retailer with this landlord.

My perception of most pop-up stores is that they last 90 to 120 days, pre-Christmas, but then are gone. However, I am hearing of stores that are pop-up, with wheel-in and wheel-out fixtures, which have been in one location for 18 months or more, all on rolling one month leases.

The final trend in this is that all of these pop-ups have been in mainstream retailing strips, but with the landlords being independent investors, with older style buildings. None of this matters at all to the shopper; if anything it enhances the “bargain/good deal” feel of the store.

I do hope we see more pop-ups before Christmas, and that many will find a home, albeit a month-to-month home, in some of our CBD/downtown areas.

CROSSMARK Asia Pacific Holdings chairman Kevin Moore looks at the world of retailing from grocery to pharmacy, bottle shops to car dealers, corner store to department stores.


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