There’s something new popping up with increased frequency this holiday season. Pop-up shops are everywhere.
Brick and mortar retailers are hoping the trend of temporary stores with specialized merchandise can get shoppers to put down their iPads and smartphones and start shopping in person again.
Elburne is an ecofriendly home décor store that has set up a shop at Legacy Place in Dedham through the middle of January.
Owners Simone and Laura Pereira believe this seasonal store will give them a chance to experiment with their brand.
"It allows us to get our name out there without making a huge investment. We can come to the area and test our concept in a different market," explained Simone.
Elburne’s permanent store is in Dennis on Cape Cod, and features unique products - many of which were created by local artists.
"When people walk in here they know it's a small shop. It is women-owned, and there is kind of a different connection to the customers right away because of that. I think it resonates well with the crowd here too," said Laura.
"They love knowing that Laura and I own it," added Simone.
Ken Perkins of Retail Metrics in Swampscott says pop-up shops like Elburne are helping malls compete with online shopping.
"One of the big attractions for mall based operations is that that these pop-up stores often offer very unique products, something that you can't get in a cookie cutter mall based stored. And that drives traffic to your other stores in your mall and that becomes very attractive."
Boston City Hall Plaza is another spot filled with pop-up shops through New Year's Eve. Small businesses are offering products that shoppers likely won't find at a big box retailer. One shopper said, "I think it's a nice vibe for everybody to come out here." Another added, "I think it makes it festive too."
There's no question pop-up shops are hot right now, but there are questions about how much impact they can have on the retail landscape. It's estimated that 7,000 stores around the country closed this year, and experts don’t see any improvement on the horizon.
"We're still seeing consolidations and next year is probably going to be a record number of store closings," said Perkins. "We are likely to see more bankruptcies in the retail space in 2018."
Celebrities like Taylor Swift and Sarah Jessica Parker have also jumped into the pop-up business. Swift is featuring products associated with her latest album. Parker, not surprisingly, sold high end shoes on 5th Avenue in New York City.
For pop-ups with the right mix of goods and services, this approach can be a way to grow their business while offering shoppers new choices.
"We get a lot of people that are surprised. They are not expecting to see a store like this in the space that we are now in," said Laura Pereira.
Cox Media Group