Pop up goes High Street

“The principle of the short-term lease offers the opportunity to prove oneself in retail stores without having to lock oneself in over years in a long-term lease.”

By Jörg F. Bitzer

“Good, better, best,” now applies to short-term rentals, too. Retailers generally look for retail space in prime locations with the intention of renting them for an indefinite period. Pop-up stores, which are rented for just a short time, have now become a very popular outlet for national and international retailers, however. It’s no longer small shop owners looking for transitional tenants—it’s now large areas on high streets or within prestige objects that are in the sights of international retailers. With intensive and expensive marketing efforts, a world of experience is provided for a short time. This method is currently i.e. popular with the automotive industry. Automakers like Jaguar and Land Rover put a lot of effort into introducing new models and creating shops for a limited duration. They attract many visitors, thereby increasing the frequency of the surrounding shops.

The same principle also applies to pop-up shops in shopping malls. Numerous shopping center operators have already made pop-up areas a compulsory component in center concepts in order to benefit from their advantages. The areas are oriented to short-term rentals and are not meant for long-term tenants. The initial idea of a temporary use for vacant space has evolved into its own, lucrative market.

Even well-known shopping malls and department stores like Galeries Lafayette Haussmann make room for the American online giant Etsy for a few weeks. From April till May, Etsy is getting a pop-up space in Galerie Lafayette’s subsidiary BHV Marais in Paris. Getting into such stores has helped retailers open many other pop-up stores in the fashion metropolis. This strategy has also helped increase awareness in the US in partnerships with Macy’s and Whole Foods Market.

It’s not only major players in the retail sector but also small, unknown retailers who previously sold only online who dare to test the market and to benefit from the direct feedback of the bricks-and-mortar business. The principle of the short-term lease offers the opportunity to prove oneself in retail stores without having to lock oneself in over years in a long-term lease. Pop-up retailers thus have the opportunity to try a business on the most popular shopping streets in the world for mere days or weeks. The South Tyrolean bag manufacturer Olletog and the Berlin underwear label Blush, for example, temporarily rented space on Vienna’s Mariahilfer Straße. Concept Store Vienna also had great success on this Viennese shopping street. Well-known brands like Nivea and beer brewery Stiegl have used top locations in stores for marketing purposes.

Especially popular are pop-ups on certain occasions, for example during the high demand periods of Christmas and Easter. At these times, not only does demand space rising, but so do rents. For high-street locations, the average price per square meter of a short-term lease is above the maximum rents that can be charged over the long term on the same area.

Restauranteurs with innovative gastronomic concepts are also interested in short-term businesses. As shown by the pioneer Naked Kitchen, which attracts many visitors with dinner events on certain days at specific locations, many subsequent restauranteurs have set up pop-up restaurants or organized pop-up markets. Ideas like these make vacant business premises on the main shopping streets or in shopping malls into dynamic spaces and give guests a unique experience.


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