Pop-up retail, also known as pop-up store (pop-up shop in the UK, Australia and Ireland) or flash retailing, is a trend of opening short-term sales spaces that last for days to weeks before closing down, often to catch onto a fad or timely event.
The trend of pop-up retail started in Los Angeles and now can be found all over the United States, Canada, China, Japan, Mexico, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Australia. The pop-up industry is now estimated to be a $50 billion industry. Pop-up retail has been an increasing factor during the retail apocalypse of the 2010s, including seasonal Halloween retailer Spirit Halloween, who has operated stores in vacant spaces during the season.
A pop-up retail space is a venue that is temporary: the space could be a sample sale one day and host a private cocktail party the next evening. The trend involves “popping up” one day, then disappearing anywhere from one day to several weeks later. These shops, while small and temporary, are used by companies to build interest in their product or service, and seed their product with cultural influencers. Pop-up retail allows a company to create a unique environment that engages their customers and generates a feeling of relevance and interactivity. They are often used by marketers for seasonal items such as Halloween costumes and decorations, Christmas gifts and Christmas trees, or fireworks. The pop-up retail model has also been used on the concert scene, as at the Treefort Music Fest, to provide all-ages or family friendly venues, often at restaurants or vacated retail establishments which do not routinely host musical acts; these ephemeral establishments are known as pop-up venues.
There are various benefits to pop-ups such as marketing, testing products, locations, or markets, and as a low-cost way to start a business. Some pop-up shops, such as Ricky’s and other Halloween stores, are seasonal, allowing brands to capture foot traffic without committing to a long-term lease. Other brands use pop-ups to create engagement, such as Marc Jacobs Tweet Shop’s exchange of “social currency” for free product, and King and McGaw who used a pop-up to exhibit and sell prints from the Mourlot Studios in Soho, London.
This concept has also spread into other countries such as Australia. For example, H&M Australia pop-up stores in 2015 and Uniqlo in 2014 to test the market.