Pop-Up Stores are Here to Stay

My colleague, Rich Hauer, and I recently had the pleasure of participating in a Retail Marketing Society panel titled, Pop-up Stores: More than Just a Seasonal Strategy.

Joined by Eric Sadi, Assistant VP, Simon Property Group and Steven Silverstein of Spencer’s Gifts / Spirit Halloween, we discussed the outlook for the pop-up store concept, and how retailers can use it both as a promotional tactic and as a part of their ongoing business plan.

Perhaps no one has a better vantage point on the way the pop-up concept can work than Steven Silverstein, whose Spirit Halloween company opened nearly 900 pop-up stores over a two-week period last fall, and plans to open even more this year. According to Steven, Spirit Halloween could not survive without the pop-up concept — which works especially well for his company, given the seasonality of their inventory and the ability to save leftover stock from year to year.

While the pop-up concept is not new for many seasonal retailers, we have certainly seen an uptick in the testing of pop-ups from both traditional and non-traditional retailers. According to Eric Sadi, the real estate atmosphere has helped encourage more retailers to try the pop-up concept. As vacancies have increased over the past few years, both retailers and landlords have been more receptive to temporary, opportunistic leases. On the retailer’s side, they can test out new ideas or business lines without taking on a great deal of risk. And on the landlord’s side, they have an opportunity to lease real estate that is not necessarily in high-demand and potentially increase traffic, making their space more attractive to others looking for long-term leases.

So what’s next for pop-up stores? While the panel agrees that the concept is more than just a fad, here are a few trends and ideas for where it may be heading:
  • More manufacturers will utilize the concept. We saw Pop-Tart experiment last year with a promotional strategy, and expect to see more
  • Online retailers will look to use pop-ups to get rid of excess inventory
  • Well established brands will increasingly use the concept to try out a new line
  • Franchisors will show their flexibility and continue to explore pop-ups
Do you think more businesses will use pop-ups this year?