The up and up of pop ups
You know Christmas is really on its way when Calendar Club returns to the shopping centre. But pop up shops have become a year round phenomenon, with an estimated value of £2.3 billion to the UK economy. Whilst shopping centres have long used their mall space to site kiosks and barrows, vacant units and even development land can represent an opportunity for new retailers looking for their first physical store, or existing brands looking to try a different angle to increase sales.
Pop up agency Appear Here has an impressive list of landlord clients, including Land Securities and Grosvenor, who list their properties for short term let in some of the most sought after areas of the capital. Kanye West recently used them to open his 3 day store in Old Street to sell merchandise related to his Life of Pablo album, and they are shortly to take their innovative approach across the Channel by letting space in Paris. We are Pop Up have recently been rescued from administration to continue doing a similar thing, but also offer the chance for retailers with too much space on their hands to find other brands to share with and increase their offering.
One of the most extreme examples of pop ups is BOXPARK, an entire pop up mall. Shipping containers are adapted into shops and restaurants and used to create a shopping centre on land that has been earmarked for development. It has the benefit for the developer of generating income whilst the proposed development ticks through the planning process and, for the local community, of preventing a grot spot developing (something us Tunbridge Wells dwellers can only dream of). The first BOXPARK opened in Shoreditch in 2011 and a new one will open in Croydon at the end of this month; to emphasise its pop up nature, some space is even let via Appear Here.
For landlords, letting a vacant property even on such a short term basis has obvious benefits, from mitigating rates liability to improving the look of an otherwise run down parade or centre. Having tenants who will only stay for a short time removes the risk of letting to a tenant with poor or untested covenant strength, and hopefully drives footfall by encouraging shoppers to visit the centre regularly. For retailers, it is a cheap, low risk way of testing a new product idea or market without the overheads associated with a traditional lease; established retailers can trial new ideas without having to dilute or amend their existing offering.
With benefits across the board, pop ups are surely here to stay.