Currently the high-street is facing some well-documented tough challenges. Yet, the continuing reports of “the high-street is dead”, isn’t exactly 100% accurate across the board. In August 2018, internet sales accounted for 18% of all retail sales (The National Office of Statistics) and whilst this is a growing figure that shouldn’t be ignored, it is still way off the majority we are sometimes led to believe. At present, many retailers are having to restructure their operations and/or reinvent themselves to keep up with the changing habits of consumers. This should therefore be seen as a period of opportunity for physical retailers to evolve and innovate, whilst working together with their online counterparts to ensure a mutually beneficial experience for all.
A positive indicator for the future of physical formats is the increasing number of pop-up shops venturing onto the high-street, made up of a mixture of online-only retailers and retailers wishing to temporarily boost their presence. Despite young brands and emerging designers tending to start their businesses online, the internet lacks that personal connection. This no strings attached, temporary measure is therefore the perfect option for those wishing to increase human to human brand awareness and test the waters, without making a long-term commitment.
Check out the pop-ups that have caught our attention this season:
1. In the US, Facebook has recently teamed up with Macy’s launching nine popup shops in the run up to Christmas, exclusively selling the top 100 performing brands from Facebook’s online platform.
2. Notonthehighstreet.com have launched two physical pop-up locations in central London. The first at Waterloo Station and the second at Westfield London in White City, the pop-ups will allow shoppers to see a range of hand-made items in the flesh as well as offering a range of craft workshops.
3. Vestiaire Collective, luxury online resale store, made a pop-up appearance at Selfridges London Menswear department earlier this month, offering customers the opportunity to sell their own pre-loved fashion pieces with the Collective's vintage team on hand to offer valuations and advice.
4. The Fragrance Shop has launched new pop-up shops called Sniff Bars in the run up to Christmas, they describe the pop-ups as a“3D edit of its website where customers can talk in person to a fragrance expert rather than communicating via email or live chat.”
5. UK charity Help Refugees and creative collective Glimpse have launched their second Choose Love store. The Carnaby shop offers a unique take on the shopping experience, giving people the opportunity to buy crucial items for refugees before leaving the store with nothing but a "warm fuzzy feeling inside".
Interestingly, 3 out of these 5 examples are from online-only brands, each offering consumers an experience that isn’t feasible through their online platforms. What we are currently witnessing is not necessarily the “death of the high-street”. That will only happen when it becomes uninteresting and boring and with the rise in experiential retail and such pop-up concepts, that certainly isn’t the case. There is however a change in dynamics regarding the way we shop, forcing mainstream retailers to restructure and rationalise their offering, charities to become more creative and smaller independent retailers to think carefully about a stand-out proposition.