Comment & Blogs
Date:17 August 2012
Pop-up Shops – Has the recession opened up new opportunities for online businesses?Tina Spooner, Chief Information Officer, IMRG
With around one in six retail outlets now standing empty across the country, compared with just one in 20 before the recession, a growing number of retailers are realising the benefits of opening temporary stores, or so called pop-up shops, in high streets throughout the UK. Some of the obvious advantages for online merchants, and indeed traditional retailers, looking for a new or additional physical store presence include not having to commit to a long-term lease, the ability to promote and test products in a new market and, also to offer in-store collection for goods ordered online. Another benefit for e-retailers considering moving into bricks & mortar, albeit temporarily, is the ability to engage face-to-face with their customers.
Over recent months we have seen a number of retailers open pop-up shops, including Tesco, which launched an F&F store in Covent Garden in May and eBay, who opened a temporary shop in Soho last Christmas allowing customers to buy goods by scanning QR codes with their mobile devices. The “eBay boutique” was open for just 5 days and saw 2,500 customers arrive through its doors. This week John Lewis revealed it will open a pop-up store in Exeter next month, with the aim of being a click-and-collect “hub”. The 1,200 sq ft shop will be open for six weeks before the launch of John Lewis’ new department store in Exeter.
It seems this new store concept represents a win/win situation not just for retailers but also the landlords, who may be struggling to secure long-term lets. They now have the opportunity to negotiate favourable terms for short-term leases and reduce vacancy rates.
This week the Government revealed it is considering relaxing the planning rules for opening temporary retail outlets. This involves suspending the need for planning permission for some types of property and also changing of use of shops. The proposals would reduce the red tape that can often cause delays securing planning permission for a merchant looking to use the premises for a different purpose. Landlords would be able to change the use of an empty property for two years.
Pop-up shops may not be the answer to rejuvenating Britain’s high streets but the positives seem to outweigh the negatives of this new store concept.