Pop-Up Shops Fit Trend Toward Smaller Retail Spaces

pop-up shop

Retailers are looking to do more in smaller spaces, a trend that seems ready to increase during the holiday shopping season and beyond.

Among the latest examples of that comes from kids’ eyewear retailer Fitz Frames, which offers face measurements via its mobile app, and a subscription commerce plan for consumers. Fitz Frames is striving to combine its online and mobile strengths into in-person experiences via pop-up retail shops. Already it has operated a pop-up experience in the Los Angeles areas, CEO Gabriel Schlumberger told PYMNTS, with more such efforts planned for other locations. He added that the service could soon find its way into eye doctors’ offices via such mobile devices as iPads.

Indeed, Warby Parker rival Eyebobs previously opened two brick-and-mortar locations: one in the Mall of America and one in Orlando’s Florida Mall. The firm first began testing the concept last October at its Minneapolis-based Glenwood Avenue headquarters. Eyebobs’ move reflects something of a trend among current online sellers, despite the mall-based retail apocalypse narrative that is prominent today.

Smaller Space Trends

Expect more activity around smaller retail spaces this holiday shopping season, too.

According to one recent analysis, “retail spaces are going to be significantly smaller while endless digital aisles will continue to expand. During the holidays, brands want to showcase all of their products but will have less physical space to do,” that report said. “More brands will adopt showroom-type locations to exhibit 5 percent to 10 percent of the most popular inventory items on the floor while branded in-store tech or apps display the rest.”

Pop-up retail stores command a good deal of attention and even excitement in retail, and for good, perhaps even obvious reason: Physical shopping, especially at malls, is on the decline as consumers become ever more mobile, and ever more sophisticated about using multiple channels to find products and complete services. Pop-ups can offer relatively low costs for retailers and a severely reduced commitment when it comes to securing physical space. That allows for the quicker exploitation of retail trends and the introduction of relatively experimental products, brands and lines without the risks that can come with full bore brick-and-mortar efforts.

Costs for pop-up shops can vary widely, of course. But one recent and reliable estimate said “you also can pull off a short-term pop-up for as little as $1,500.” Another analysis, this one from Popertee, found that “the total cost of one 30-day pop-up” stood at about $33,000.

The pop-up proposition is attractive not only to retailers with a long focus on physical stores. Those temporary stores also provide a way for eCommerce operators to connect with more customers in the physical real and further their own brick-and-mortar plans.

Amazon Moves

Amazon, as you can imagine, provides a good example of that — and a good example of why the pop-up trend is still and hit-and-miss type of thing. That’s because earlier this year, the retailer said it would shutter all 87 of its pop-up stores in the United States by the end of April. The move ended the proliferation of the small shops in malls, Kohl’s stores and Whole Foods in 21 states. The stores were only about a few hundred square feet and have devices like Alexa-enabled speakers and Kindles. The pop-up stores were mostly used to show off items like Alexa devices and to let customers trade in old tablets for credit.

Even so, expect the trend to continue for pop-up and other smaller retail spaces.


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