From pop-ups to pop-in: bricks and mortar retail is still important

In May Hammerson launched the Up Market initiative in partnership with Appear Here, the online leader in retail rental space. Under the three year deal, up-and-coming retailers will occupy retail space within Hammerson’s shopping centre portfolio on a temporary basis. Those lucky enough to be showcased with Up Market will benefit from excellent visibility and footfall, as well as favourable rental rates starting from £300 per week. The initiative has launched in the Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham (where normally units can cost from £5,000 a week) and additional locations (including Brent Cross) are planned for later this year.

The launch of Up Market caught Retail Consigliere’s attention as the initiative is indicative of wider trends in the retail industry. Following 2008’s credit crunch and the collapse of many high street retailers, temporary pop up residencies have frequently filled empty retail units. Since then, the pop up model has been used by start-ups as well as established brands, with the likes of Nike and Northface offering a transitory and often elusive pop-up experience. In the last few years, e-commerce vendors have also embraced a move to physical stores. For example, Etsy launched its first store in New York’s Macy’s and Amazon Go, a cashier-less grocery shop, opened in Seattle late last year.

Although e-commerce is often seen as the focus for retailers, remember that online sales still only account for approximately 15.5% of all retail spending. It’s therefore important that retailers don’t overlook bricks and mortar sales. Opening a pop-up store is one way for a retailer to generate publicity, test products and concepts, and engage directly with customers without incurring substantial long-term costs.

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