Britain’s pop-up retail industry is booming. In the last year, the sector produced £2.1 billion in retail turnover, which is the equivalent to 0.6% of the total UK retail turnover. Furthermore, the sector employed more than 23,000 people and in the next 12 months the sector’s growth rate is set to outstrip the wider UK retail sector by more than double: with consumers projected to increase spending in pop-ups by 8.4%.
A historically high level of shop vacancy rates, combined with changing consumer preferences and a growing emphasis on locally sourced products has created the perfect storm for the sector to flourish. The average person visiting pop-up outlets spent £110.00 in the last 12 months. This is projected to rise to £120 in the next year. Across the UK there are 9,400 pop-up shops, employing approximately 23,400 people. Pop-up retailing is most prevalent in Cardiff where 73% of consumers have visited a pop-up shop.
The most popular pop-up shops to visit and spend money in are farmers’ markets, food and beverage shops and fashion stores. Over 40% of people who have visited a pop-up store went to a farmers’ market in the last 12 months. However, despite the economic growth opportunities pop-ups provide to Britain: the nation’s pop-up retail industry could move into double-digit growth if certain barriers were removed.
To be successful, most stores need a fast and reliable internet connection, which can be installed quickly. This ensures that the store can increase custom through the limited number of point-of-sales devices on days it is open and the shop is able to be portable, moving around at short notice.
Also research shows 65% of consumers would visit a pop-up shop more often if they could easily find its current location: while 45% say being able to pay by debit or credit card is important. As such, connected devices, which enable pop-up retailers to promote their store through social media and take card payments are likely to become imperative for this group.
Successful pop-up shops utilise this new technology, which allows them to quickly set up their store, broadcast their location, promote their brand and take payments from customers. Portable technology, easily accessible and secure WiFi hotspots and vacant storefronts have been helping this sector to flourish.
Pop-ups illustrate the innovative nature of the UK retail sector and are a growing part of the UK economy. Over the last year pop-up retailing produced £2.1 billion in revenue and employed roughly 23,400 people. Consumers also benefit from the rise of pop-up shops, as they typically deliver a wide range of unique products by clustering together in one location. Furthermore, pop-up retailing supports the existence of vibrant local independent businesses.
Richard Lim, head of business information at the British Retail Consortium, has said: “We’re only at the beginning of the pop-up revolution. The novel use of temporary spaces showcases the innovative nature of UK retail, which continues to adapt to consumer demands and structural changes occurring throughout the industry. Whether you’re a major retailer that wants to try out a new product line or just one person with a great idea, setting up a pop-up should be as easy as possible.”
EE has now launched its pop-up UK campaign, with pop-up space marketplace Appear Here and British Retail Consortium. EE say they are committing to support 3,000 pop-up shops over the next three years, suggesting that the trend only shows signs of increasing. Since they first emerged, pop-ups have evolved from an ephemeral brand outpost into a series of increasingly sophisticated retail spaces. Also, the considerations in designing for such space have shifted dramatically. Where retailers were once content with branding spaces through quick, easy modifications such as wall graphics: now each space must give increasingly discerning consumers something more special.
As the UK economy recovers and consumer confidence continues to rise, the pop-up retailing sector should continue to grow. With the introduction of innovative technology, a changing consumer culture and an increased awareness of pop-up retailing, the sector is in good health. However, it could contribute even more to the British economy if more is done to eliminate barriers for pop-up entrepreneurs.
What might be introduced to assist the growth of pop-up shops?