Sizzle Of The Week: New York’s Holiday Pop-Up Explosion

Amazon, eBay, Apple Gear up for Holiday Season

With the holiday season now officially upon us, there things that one can reasonably expect to see a lot of for the next several weeks: houses and shopping centers lit up like Las Vegas, wreathes, evergreen trees, elves on shelves, eggnog  and perhaps a fruitcake or two.

And pop-up shops, if you happen to be in New York City between now and when the ball officially drops on 2018 in Times Square.

The city that never sleeps is a big draw for pop-up pushers year round: according to real estate firm JLL, when choosing their first pop-up location, over half (59.5 percent) of brands pick New York, with L.A. followed in a distant second place at 16.2 percent and Toronto coming in third at 5.4 percent. And during the approximately six-week season between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day that marks the busiest shopping run of the retail year, that enthusiasm in 2018 has gone from intense to bordering insane, with literally dozens of holiday-themed pop-up shopspop-up barspop-up museums, pop-up restaurants and pop-up holiday markets and bazaars stretching from Brooklyn to the Bronx and in every borough around and between.

As for what consumers can get? Well that’s probably more an individual question, because the odds are better than good that somewhere on the mean streets of New York, there is a pop-up shop waiting for you.

Looking for a good deal on shoes? Payless shoes is offering a pop-up shop in Times Square already (with more pop-up locations planned for Whittier, California; Alpharetta, Georgia; Paramus, New Jersey; Limerick, Pennsylvania; Clarksburg, Maryland; Hagerstown, Maryland; Hickory, North Carolina; and El Paso, Texas). Payless is offering up shoes, naturally, as well as a collection of handbags and accessories in an environment that is “a more modern look and feel than traditional Payless brick-and-mortar stores,” according to the firm.

But of course not every customer is looking to pay less, and for those looking for a more expensive and luxurious experience, never fear, Chanel will also be popping up this holiday season, with a shop dedicated to beauty items — and the color red. The shop is in fact called Le Rouge.

From December 7 through the 23rd the shop — which is free and open to the public — will be decorated in in red and offer up a host of beauty products, including Chanel N°5 in a collectible all-red bottle, as well as private consultations with Chanel beauty experts. There will also be some limited-edition goods on hand, including a 30.4 fl oz N°5 perfume bottle — made of Baccarat glass. A word to the wise looking to possibly pick that up as a Christmas gift for someone special: there are only 55 of those in the world and they’re $30,000 a piece.

And if that’s a bit out of your budget, or perhaps Chanel beauty and fragrance are not quite your taste, there are always the options that the big tech players have rolled out for the holidays. The two highest-profile offerings in that category setting up shop in Manhattan this season are Facebook's pop-up pair-up with Macy’s, and Google’s Hardware shop pop-up.

The Facebook Macy’s pairup will bring 100 small businesses and digital brands that are popular  on Facebook and Instagram into retail stores — just in time for the holiday shopping season.

The pop-up shop will be located in The Market @ Macy’s in New York City, as well as in  Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, San Antonio, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, now through early February.

“The Market @ Macy’s helps both emerging and established brands reach new audiences by showcasing them in a physical space inside Macy’s. We know the power of connecting businesses with the people who love them most, which is why we’re proud to play a role in expanding the communities of these businesses to in-store shoppers at one of the most beloved retail stores in the world,” Facebook noted on its foray into physical retail.

Google’s Hardware Store, on the other hand, has set up shop in a SoHo gallery and, as its name implies, is designed to showcase the entire ecosystem of Google devices — particularly those related to the connected, smart house. To that end, the shop has a “treehouse” where consumers can go to demos that various features of Google Home Hub in action. The shop also offers various workshops for users, which range in topics from how to take better selfies with the Pixel 3,  to how make marshmallows following instructions on the Home Hub.

And if the thought of all that shopping, touring and demoing makes you feel a bit tired?  More good news.

If you need a drink to steel yourself, there are over a dozen holiday themed pop-up bars showing up all over the city. If reviews are to be believed, ski lodge-decorations, peppermint flavor, whiskey and tacky Christmas lights abound.

If food is more in order to put some pep in your step, more good news. Among the many pop-up restaurants choices on offer, New York’s iconic Carnegie Deli  will be back for eight days during the first week of December. The real Carnegie Deli closed in 2016 after 79 years of operation; the new pop-up edition's brief visit is happening to promote the second season of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” on Amazon. The downside is the menu won’t be nearly as complete as it once was. The only sandwiches offered are “The Maisel” and “The Susie.” Other than that, patrons can order mini knish, a black-and-white cookie, cheesecake, and pickles. Drink-wise, you can choose from water, iced tea, coffee, and Dr. Brown’s Soda. On the upside, because the Deli is meant to evoke 1958 (when the show is set) as closely as possible, nothing on the menu costs more than 99 cents.

And if a nap is really what you feel you might need after all this shopping, there’s a pop-up for that too: Brooklinen has an NYC pop-up as well, where it is selling its full line of luxury sheets and bedding.

While the Carnegie Deli is an extremely limited-time offering, the vast majority of these pop-up offerings will last through the end of the holiday season, and in some cases a bit beyond.

Will it change to the face of holiday shopping in the largest shopping hub in the U.S.? Will customers flock to New York to see the pop-ups as often as they come to see the store windows on Sixth Avenue during the season? Only time — and Instagram influence feeds — will tell.

But as pop-up after pop-up goes up and online over the next week or two in a city that should perhaps be called the Big Candy Cane for the next few weeks, it seems safe to see that the temporary shops taking over Manhattan have earned the sizzle of the week.


Black Friday Internet Sales: They rise, perhaps not all that surprisingly, surging more than 26 percent even as foot traffic at retailers slides roughly mid-single digits. The consumer marches on, it seems.

Small Business Saturday: Hardly small in any sense of the word, as the latest tally of supporting smaller brick-and-mortar firms, spearheaded by Amex, brought in roughly $18 billion. That brings the haul since inception in 2010 to more than $100 billion.

Healthcare digital efforts: Gets a healthy injection of interest, as Amazon joins the trend of making paper-based records digital. The company is selling software that will use machine learning to make sense of what might charitably be called doctors’ “handwriting.”


Gymboree: Mulls shuttering half its stores, just over a year after exiting bankruptcy. And bankruptcy looms again. Sales have been on the wane, of course — and it seems like the Amazon effect has quite a lingering effect.

Brexit: Yes, a deal was struck, but get ready for the aftershocks. Banks in the U.K. are seeking to prepare businesses there for a “cash” crunch as bad loans may spike.

Apple: Beyond the continued concern over iPhone sales, the Trump administration has said that it might levy a 10 percent tariff on iPhones and laptops imported from China.



The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.