Pop-ups' Vital Role in High Street Regeneration

Hosting the PopUp Summit organised by PopUp Britain (part of the Association of Town & City Management), Ian Anderson, Head of Retail Planning at CBRE, spoke enthusiastically about the role that pop-up shops will play in our high streets.

“Having started as unusual novelties on high streets across the country, pop-up shops are here to stay,” commented Anderson. “Pop-ups have evolved from being simply an opportunity to fill empty high street units during the recession. In contrast to many other retailers, pop-up retailing and meanwhile uses have prospered, expanded and transcended the recession, capitalising upon the ominchannel revolution and people's desire for something unique. Ultimately, they are evolving into an important element in the overall architecture of the high street.”

“Pop-ups present the perfect incubator space for new businesses which have a strong online offer but need a physical presence to garner wider interest. Often the transitory nature of the space and offer itself further enhances on line exposure through social media, which further catapults the brand. It is then a stepping stone to more permanent accommodation and ultimately the opportunity to build an omichannel offer across a network of units.”

A recent statistic from the British Council of Shopping Centres (BCSC) and the Local Data Company (LDC) suggested that there were 242 fewer empty shops across Britain last year than the year before. There was also a steady decline in the number of shop closures in some areas.

“Pop-ups benefit the high street by creating new interest, driving footfall and preventing vacancies,” Anderson continues. “There is no question that town centres are still in a precarious position: the economy is still fragile and retailers face challenges from both out-of-town and online. But pop-ups generate precisely the excitement of the new to drive more vital and viable town centres. For that reason alone, they should be embraced.”

Pop-up shops are set to grow by 8.4 per cent, according to a recent study by the phone retailer EE and economic consultancy CEBR. The report suggests there are more than 9,000 pop-up retail destinations in the UK, employing more than 23,000 people. Transport for London (TfL) has recently experimented by opening spaces to small retail businesses via pop-up platform Appear Here. Another successful pop-up operator is Roger Wade, who founded Boxpark – a fashion and lifestyle emporium created stripped and refitted shipping containers.

The PopUp Summit was organised by PopUp Britain, part of the Association of Town and City Management (ATCM). Becky Jones, its Campaign Manager, said: “We held our second annual PopUp Summit recently and the clear message was that the pop-up concept is now well-and-truly main stream - but needs to maintain its high impact by offering a constantly-revolving retail experience for shoppers.

“That way high streets benefit from more innovation offered by a stream of competitive individual brands.”

Click here to view Ian Anderson's presentation video