The end of the pop up? - Ashdown Phillips & Partners
Ashdown Phillips & Partners earns third consecutive Planet Mark Business Certification
January 25, 2024
New year outlook from our MD, Andrew Wraight
February 5, 2024

The end of the pop up?

With the recent news on the collapse of temporary space operator Sook, we look at what the future might hold for pop up shops.

Pop ups are not new, and nor are the problems they were designed to help us solve, so the failure of Sook came as a shock to some.

In this blog, we use our pop up at The Lanes Shopping Centre in Carlisle to look at the wider benefits of pop ups and why we think the concept is well and truly here to stay.

Easy Retailing

To work really well, the pop up offer has to be straightforward – both for landlords and prospective occupiers. Emerging retail brands are rightly focussed on shifting product and gauging customer reaction, not negotiating rent and getting to grips with service charges. At our pop up in The Lanes, Carlisle, we keep it simple – with one affordable weekly cost that includes service charge, business rates and utilities. We even throw in use of the fixtures and fittings along with social media support. This has contributed towards the team achieving an impressive 50 lettings over the last 3 years. Most lettings are for around 2 weeks, with many returning multiple times throughout the year.

Stakeholder Support

Our Carlisle pop up is managed in conjunction with our colleagues at Barker Proudlove and with the complete buy in of our client – this means that the service charge is taken care of and the team is free to concentrate on getting the space booked out to the most suitable operators. When this goes well, it goes really well – with several operators ‘graduating’ from the pop up to their own permanent spaces. As a result of this partnership, the space is almost fully booked between now and the end of the first quarter. Jess Swain of Barker Proudlove said, “It is crucial for small businesses to have an opportunity to recognise the potential of the high street. Our pop up space is designed to make this big step easier to consider, our hope is that more local businesses will then realise there is a huge opportunity for them to be successfully part of their local retail environment.”

Location, Location, Location

You may not have heard this one before (yeah, right – thanks Phil and Kirsty) but location is EVERYTHING. Pop ups are not a way to try and recoup a bit of lost income from your worst unit – the unit you choose should be the one that gives operators the absolute best chance of success. Think light, bright and a great frontage – just like this one.

Something for everyone

Whilst we appreciate that there might be a bit of extra work involved with a constant churn of short term operators – it’s hard to find any material reason why not to try a pop up if you think it could work in your retail space. Done well, there is something for everyone –

• The operator gets a low cost, low risk opportunity to test their offer and may look to take permanent space in the future. This works so well, that last year, 9 of our operators rebooked and wanted to use the space again.

• Often the operator is already trading online, and the pop up concept gives them chance to test a bricks and mortar offer – along with helping to raise their web profile.

• Shoppers get additional choice, new products, and a reason to visit more frequently – our pop up at The Lanes runs at an occupancy rate of almost 70% so there is always something new for customers to see.

• Some of the recent offers in Carlisle have included prom dresses, crystals, local art sales, and even garden items and bird boxes.

• Landlords get information – on which product types have worked well and which haven’t, along with a feel for which operators are likely to be wins in the future. They also get great local kudos and positive PR for supporting growing businesses – and maybe even some business rates relief thrown in along the way!

The future

At Ashdown Phillips, we firmly believe it’s all about doing things for the right reasons – and this is no truer than when it comes to approaching pop up shops. The key to success is choosing the right space, not the most difficult – acting as an incubator to new local retailers, not trying to make a quick buck – and working in partnership with everyone concerned, focussing on the occupier and not trying to make it all about us. We think the pop up is a permanent fixture on our high streets and we can’t see the concept waning any time soon, nor would we want it to. What do you think? We’d love to hear your thoughts so please let us know.

by John Magee, Associate Director & Nicola Green, Marketing Manager, The Lanes Shopping Centre