We are in the midst of a retail revolution. Customers are demanding more experiences and unique offerings and less of the department store feel. Out are the stuffy, basic shopping centres and in are the exclusive shops providing particular experiences and technology immersion. Anchor stores, a once coveted spot, are left vacant, forcing shopping centre owners to re-think their strategy and work to fill the empty spaces piling up. It’s a fight to stay relevant and impress shoppers with innovative experiences.
This last year has seen several announcements of middle to large department stores closing from the likes of Macy’s, GAP, and Office Depot. Even luxury brands such as Michael Kors are pairing back their store counts, realizing that overexposure does not always equal more profit. Shoppers no longer want the standard department store or luxury shop that can be found everywhere in the world. The allure of a luxury brand is exclusivity but if it’s too accessible, it loses that appeal. This movement is causing centre owners some financial pain. Shopping centres in the UK have seen a 2% drop in footfall since July of 2016. Shoppers are bored and as we are currently in a mostly trendless season, they have little incentive to go to a mall to fill their closets with things they already have. Shopping centre owners must find other offerings to bring customers back in and keep them.
In a move to encourage pop-up shops to rent with them, big shopping centres such as Westfield Corp. and Simon Property Group are building “white box” stores. These stores will have a simple interior, able to transform for each brand that sets up there. These shopping centres in particular are allocating 5% of their leasable space to these places. Centres in Asia are doing even more to cash in on the pop-up store popularity. Hysan Bay in Hong Kong has hosted everything from a Nespresso pop-up shop to yoga classes hosted by Lululemon in an effort to get more people into the mall. Shopping centre owners are seeing the investment possibilities of these temporary shops.
These pop-up shops are changing the “shopping centre experience”; breathing new life into an old concept. Many shoppers are tired of seeing the same concept luxury brands everywhere as they have oversaturated the market, making what was once exclusive so interesting. As well as welcoming back the once regular shoppers, pop-up shops are bringing in new clientele. The Kanye West pop-up shop in Northbrook brought customers from out-of-town that normally wouldn’t even be in that city, with attendees claiming they had driven quite a distance to get there. Rotating pop-ups encourage shoppers to keep coming back to see something different. We’ve seen successful examples of these shops for both well-known and obscure brands, each approaching the concept in a different way. As rent prices and vacancies go up, we are sure to see more of these strategies in use.