What retail trend is projected to turn $10 billion in 2019? The answer is temporary retail - also known as flash retailing, or “pop-up stores”. So what is flash retailing, and what’s driving its success? Here, we take a look at where this trend came from, and what you need to know about the rising trend of “Pop up” stores.
Flash retailing is a type of physical retail that relies on temporary locations, such as storefronts, stalls, or trucks, to sell wares. The first “pop-up shop” is attributed to 13th century Vienna, where a series of temporary storefronts opened for Christmas celebrations. The practicality and ease of the Christmas pop-up lead flash retail to take Europe by storm, and by the 20th century, pop-ups such as farmers markets, food carts, and holiday-themed stores were commonplace.
While we’re all familiar with the transient farmers market and Spirit Halloween store, the trend in single-retailer pop-up shops is relatively recent. The modern pop-up retailer is said to have been birthed by Patrick Courrielche, an American entrepreneur, in 1997, with the establishment of The Ritual Expo. The so-called “expo” was a travelling mall of sorts, touring six cities in two months and featuring designer clothing, accessories, electronics, and cultural events. The press release stated that the expo was an “opportunity to soak up a unique environment while shopping for hard-to-find, cutting-edge merchandise.” The appeal was obvious--the hard-to-find wares, combined with the exclusivity of a only a few days’ opportunity, lead to the perfect high-fashion cultural event. Soon, pop-up shops exploded across the market. Now, in 2019, the flash retail market is exceeding expectations for growth, and projected to bring in $10 billion. What’s granted pop-up shops their success? Their transience appeals to shoppers, and their low overhead allows for greater profits.
It’s no mystery why consumers love pop-up shops. Specialization, exclusivity, and the opportunity to try products usually only available online contribute to their appeal. In one survey, 61% of consumers stated that seasonal shopping was their primary reason for going to pop-up shops: from farmers markets to Christmas markets, pop-up shopping is the best way to get in-season products otherwise unavailable the rest of the year. Meanwhile, 30% of shoppers attributed their shopping at pop-ups to the fun of the experience. The transience of flash retail grants a sense of adventure to your shopping trip, aligning with changing trends in how consumers spend their money--looking more for experiences than products.
Low costs of putting up a pop-up, is another factor driving the growth in the flash retail market. Stores are only around for weeks or even days at a time, saving huge sums of money on maintaining a storefront, and allowing brands to experiment with physical retail. And many shops operate out of low-cost, temporary structures: stalls, trucks, carts, even sidewalk sales. The flexibility of a pop-up, too, keeps prices low and revenue high. Because a shop can hop from neighborhood to neighborhood or city to city, retailers can determine how to best reach their market without investing in long-term contracts or buildings. This also allows shops to have some location-based product availability, avoiding redundancies in their market.
Pop-up shops are running the market in 2019. Their flexibility and novelty guarantee a shopping experience to remember for customers, ,an inexpensive model for business owners and a relatively low risk way for online only brands to experiment with physical retail. With all these benefits, we suspect this trend will be around for a long time.