Pop-ups becoming a major factor in retail 

Pop-up retail is now worth £2.3 billion to the UK economy, an increase of 12.3 per cent on last year, research finds.

Pop-up shops now account for 0.76 per cent of total UK retail turnover, up from 0.6 per cent the year before, according to an annual report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).

The research finds that the sector is growing much faster than predicted, with 12.3 per cent more revenue this year versus 8.4 per cent last year, caused by a rise in the number of customers and an increased average spend.

Some 44 per cent of respondents have visited a pop-up in the past year, and they’re spending £8 per month more than they previously were at an annual total of £124 per person.

Britain is now host to more than an estimated 10,000 pop-ups, according to the report, and the sector employs more than 26,000 people. The lines between pop-ups and traditional retail are increasingly blurred, as well-established retailers and online-only brands are using pop-ups to test and expand into new locations and product lines.

Around 8 per cent of retailers report having launched a pop-up sometime in the past year, while 10 per cent plan to open one in the next five years.

Related: The essential guide to setting up a pop-up shop in the UK

However, barriers still remain. Obtaining a reliable internet connection remains one of the biggest challenges, and is crucial for point-of-sale (POS) devices, stock management tools and for real-time customer promotion via social channels like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Additionally, despite the fact that card payments are projected to overtake cash within the next ten years, over 40 per cent of small retailers and food and accommodation providers say they are unable to process card payments.

Additionally the report highlights stock management is increasingly a key challenge, particularly as retailers try to manage sales and inventory across online, permanent and temporary shops. 25 per cent of retailers say they have lost money because they don’t have sufficient stock management systems in place.

Rob Harbron, managing economist for CEBR says, ‘Pop-up retail is continuing to become an increasingly viable platform for both people with new business ideas and for established businesses looking to engage with customers in new and innovative ways.

‘Successful retailers increasingly need to offer customers the ability to shop when and where they want. As such, the flexibility of pop-up stores makes the format increasingly attractive. However, without appropriate investment in technology, efficiently co-ordinating a range of platforms is becoming increasingly challenging for businesses.’

Ross Bailey, founder and CEO of Appear Here adds, ‘This report highlights how important the pop-up sector is becoming to the UK economy. With so many traditional retailers using pop-up shops and so many pop-up retailers moving onto long-term rents, we should no longer be looking to draw a line between traditional retail and pop-up retail – it is all just retail.’

Further reading on pop-ups

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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