It’s never been more important for retailers to attract shoppers through their doors as they prepare for the all-important Christmas countdown – and interactive pop-ups could help do just that.
Christmas is fast approaching and for the UK’s shopping centres that can only mean one thing – the pop-ups are coming. Every year it’s the same as vacant units up and down the country are transformed into tinsel decked grottos of festive delights.
For retailers, securing a pop-up space is a chance to trade from a bigger footprint during one of the most lucrative trading periods of the year without being burdened with the higher costs that come with permanent shops. And for shopping centre landlords, it means the opportunity to inject some energy and interest into their schemes, while also ensuring vacant units don’t stand empty. It’s a win-win for both parties.
But every year with the arrival of Christmas pop-ups comes the inevitable mutterings of discontent from those permanent retailers paying their money year in, year out, to keep the scheme afloat. Instead of focusing on the negatives – chiefly that temporary stores are benefiting from reduced rents and a chance to try out new ranges and concepts virtually risk free – retailers could learn a lot from the new generation of pop-ups springing up this side of Christmas.
Take department store group John Lewis, which last week opened a 4,000 sq ft pop-up shop in London’s Islington to promote its House homewares and furniture range. While it may not be overrun with the ubiquitous baubles and trees, it certainly ticks all the right boxes for consumer startings their Christmas shop early.
Not only has the retailer hit on an excellent way to encourage shoppers to interact with the products in a way not always possible in a more traditional store set-up, it’s also drawing curious passers-by in with a series of free events. The attraction of a coffee and juice bar, film screenings, a street food workshop, and an Open House Party featuring a free bar, will all help pull in the punters.
The space might be relatively small, which means only smaller products can be purchased in-store, but the inclusion of tablets means shoppers can browse the entire collection online.
John Lewis is certainly not unique in its plan to use pop-up stores to excite shoppers with something different from the norm - preppy fashion retailer Jack Wills is this month opening festive pop-up stores in the UK; luxury department store Harvey Nichols is again opening Christmas pop-up food markets to take advantage of the festive rush; and Toys R Us has signed up to its second shopping centre opening with a 9,700 sq ft pop-up store in Glasgow.
The question now will be whether these retailers, and the countless others who will be unveiling their festive pop-ups in the next few weeks, can use the concept of a temporary store to genuinely add something different to the retail mix for shoppers. John Lewis’ pop-up in Islington certainly appears to do that, with the interactive elements giving consumers more reasons to cross the threshold and engage with the products on offer.
Just this week Retail Week reported footfall in September dropped 2.4% year on year causing pre-Christmas jitters for retailers, according to the BRC-Springboard Retail Footfall Monitor. Such figures go to show it’s never been more important that retailers attract shoppers through their doors as they prepare for the all-important Christmas countdown – and interactive pop-ups could help do that.
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