Can pop-ups wake up mall traffic?
With department stores and many iconic mall chains failing to drive traffic and closing doors, malls are turning to pop-up stores to drum up excitement.
Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, for instance, partnered with Rent the Runway over four consecutive weekends during May and June to host the shopping center’s first-ever pop-up sample sale.
“We are continually seeking exclusive and innovative ways to provide shoppers with one-of-a-kind experiences,” said Amanda O’Connell, assistant director of marketing and business development of Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, at the time.
A recent Wall Street Journal article stated some malls are dedicating five percent of their space to short-term leases to both minimize vacancy rates and stimulate traffic. To attract smaller entrepreneurs, including e-tailers exploring a physical presence, malls are said to be establishing smaller, “white box” spots with simple interiors that can easily transition from one tenant to another.
“They are using those to attract specialty retailers or local players who are intimidated by the whole rent structure,” Nick Hernandez, managing director of retail at Transwestern, a commercial real-estate firm, told the Journal. Vendors looking to demo product on a temporary basis can also find more opportunities inside malls.
The trend demonstrates how the pop-up experience has evolved beyond a room full of folding tables with local purveyors of fashion, costume jewelry and other crafts. Some have become spectacles. During the last two weeks of August, a pop-up shop in the Meatpacking District in Manhattan, the Museum of Ice Cream, gave visitors a chance to take selfies while swimming in a pool filled with 11,000 pounds of confetti-colored sprinkles. In Chicago, a pop-up diner, “Saved By The Max,” is paying homage to the diner from the ’90s TV show, “Saved by the Bell.”
Virtual reality headsets and other emerging digital technologies are also helping deliver amusement park-type experiences shopper settings. Jeremy Baras, CEO of PopUp Republic, a consultancy firm, told the Portland Press Herald, “It’s about unique and innovative concepts that can create exclusivity and drive traffic and attention.”
- Mall Owners Warm Up to ‘Pop-Up Stores’ – The Wall Street Journal (sub. required)
- Rent The Runway To Host Sample Sale At Woodbury Common Premium Outlet – Fashion Times
- The Full Scoop on The Museum of Ice Cream, NYC’s Sweetest New Hotspot – W
- Capture ’90s Nostalgia at Chicago’s Saved By The Max – Travel Pulse
- Inventiveness accompanies pop-ups’ proliferation in Boston and beyond – Portland Press Herald
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Should existing tenants welcome a steady stream of pop-ups at malls and shopping centers? How much pop-up activity is healthy for the mall experience and at what point might it be harmful?