Pop-up stores are for now and they’re more relevant than ever.

Times are not easy and, we keep being told, they won’t get any easier any time soon. There is a temptation at this point to expect retailers to batten down the hatches and wait for things to blow over. But this is almost certainly not going to happen. The clichéd phrase that when the going gets tough, the tough get going is rather more likely to be the outcome of what may be ahead.

Just because things look tricky does not mean that novelty won’t come pretty close to the top of the bill. This may well explain the preponderance of new formats that are currently under development by retailers as they attempt to maintain relevance for their shoppers.

And of course there is the pop-up shop. Last week alone, there were two of these within half a mile of each other in central London: the Edition store from Debenhams, that will be open for a minimum of eight weeks and within Selfridges, pulp romance publisher Mills & Boon had opted to take a small area to make the most of today: Valentine’s Day.

As a phenomenon, pop-up stores first came into their own a couple of years ago and since then everybody has been confidently predicting the point at which they will have run their course. Yet they do, well, keep popping up. And perhaps the threat of a double-dip, cutbacks or maybe just an indifferent trading environment is to blame for this.

If you really are looking to save money on marketing and store development, then the pop-up remains one of the more effective ways of ensuring that your products gets noticed without putting an undue strain on the bottom line. There is also the point that this is a very good way of putting a brand that we all think of as more or less everyday centre stage – Marmite, Dyson and indeed Mills & Boons all stand as evidence of this.

Here’s a modest prediction therefore. Pop-up stores are not about to go away and indeed if things really do get sticky then expect to see a lot more of them.  And given that they can appear almost at the drop of a hat and in distinctly non-traditional (ie. cost-free) locations, the surprising thing is that it’s only Mills & Boon that has seen the pop-up potential of the day of love. Carpe diem.

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