These days it is increasingly diffcult to tell whether what you’re looking at is pop-up or permanent and perhaps ‘pop-up’ no longer means anything.

These days it is increasingly diffcult to tell whether what you’re looking at is pop-up or permanent and perhaps ‘pop-up’ no longer means anything.

Pop-up shops of the past used to rather self-consciously look like pop-up shops. They’d have fixtures fashioned from packing crates or pallets, pendant lights that might, in a previous life, have seen service on a North Sea trawler, and graphics that would normally consist of messages that changed daily and which were chalked up on a blackboard.

And all of this was fine, as long as there was a finite life to the store in question and the product could in some way be regarded as ‘cult’ - the crowds would flock, or so the theory went. For a while they did and all concerned were probably happy.

Yet visit Westfield London, for instance, on a busy afternoon and you might be hard pushed to work out which stores are temporary and which are not. In this location, there is a branch of Jack Wills that looks, well, pretty much like any other Jack Wills. But it is a pop-up - or at least until its owners decide to make it permanent - which could be in the early New Year.

The curious thing about all of this is that many permanent stores have adopted the pop-up clothing as part of what they do. In-store pop-up spaces (aka promotions) are now commonplace and while they may actually be nothing of the kind, it is deemed a good ploy to generate excitement and the sense of change that should be a starting point for all good retailers.

Increasingly therefore, the term pop-up looks redundant. Indeed, it might be better to substitute the words ‘shopper-led assessment vehicle’ or something equally clumsy from the beginners book of marketing. Pop-up has morphed from the retail equivalent of agitprop to just another form of marketing and the number of stores that really fit the description continues to dwindle.

Is this therefore the end of the pop-up as we like to imagine it should be and once was? Possibly, although there will always be room for the novel and genuinely short-lived. For the most part however, ‘trial stores’, prior to settling in to a location, might serve as a better label for what is happening. There is nothing wrong with this, it’s just that pop-up as a term is not the force it once was.