The growth and accessibility of the internet has opened many doors and opportunities for small businesses. In particular, those who would have trouble financing a bricks and mortar shop may have turned to a more outdoor version of what we now know as Pop Up shops, like market stalls and fairs.
However, not only is the internet easily accessible, the start up and maintenance costs of running an online shop compared to a physical outlet is greatly reduced. And because of this, online retailers can offer hugely discounted prices. This has gradually put more and more pressure on our high streets and a recent study by the Centre for Retail Research has predicted that over 60,000 UK shops could close within the next five years because of this unbeatable competition.
Nobody wants to see empty shops in our high streets. Not only does it harm the economy and tourism in certain areas, but it can also bring down the local morale and damage other retailers who are still trading with the reduction in visitors.
With local councils starting to recognise that a more flexible approach to leasing retail spaces is needed to improve the economy, some are reducing rates and lease terms. This can provide new and small businesses with a chance to use this lull as an opportunity to fill those empty spaces. Some towns and cities have very large properties to fill and these would provide excellent opportunities for start up collectives or businesses already trading online.
No longer should there be retailers who are exclusively bricks and mortar or exclusively online. Combining the two, coupled with more flexible terms like temporary pop ups is surely the way to go to keep the UK high street energised.
We at Popupspace have gathered a wealth of retail knowledge over the years and are here to help with any questions you have about starting your own Pop Up shop. So get in touch today and see how you can start reshaping your high street for the better.
Sarah James, Popupspace
Chocolatier and artisan baker Cocomaya is opening a pop up shop in time for Easter at London Heathrow’s Terminal 5. The shop will sell a range of delicious morsels such as cakes, pastries, sandwiches, chocolate bars and truffles alongside hot and cold drinks.
The pop up space within the terminal is designed to bring small artisan brands into the airport. Cocomaya is the first retailer to launch int he space and will be open until the summer.
London Assembly’s Economy Committee has suggested a number ideas to reverse the decline in London’s high streets, including renegotiating rents and slowing the spread of pawnbrokers and betting shops.
The Assembly said that in 2000, a third of retail spending took place in out of town centres or on the Internet. By 2011 this had increased to 42% – and the number of empty shops in London has increased in the last two years by 5% to 3,400. The report also warns the vacancy increase is contributing to the decline, discouraging shoppers and leading to the closure of other retailers who might otherwise have survived.
The Committee has called for London-wide support to renegotiate rents, a new register of owners of vacant shops so landlords can be easily traced and pop up and interim uses for empty shops.
Andrew Dismore, Chair of the Economy Committee, said: “Our traditionally diverse and interesting high streets are blighted by the number of empty shops which are a deterrent to customers, discourage further investment, and create an air of decline.”
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said more than £250m was being invested to help bring vacant properties back into use, revitalise shop fronts and to support trade and generate jobs.
“The Mayor welcomes this report and will continue to work with the boroughs, government and business groups to help unlock the economic potential of London’s high streets,” added the spokesperson.
Bristol based Parsons Bakery has revealed that their temporary site in Bedminster, which opened on 15th December, has been trading at a profit and the company now wants to continue operating the shop.
Parsons Bakery is a family-run chain of 34 retail stores. They were originally approached by Community Regeneration Group Way Out West to open the pop up.
Nick Parsons, Managing Director at Parsons Bakery, said: “The Group surveyed the surrounding residents to see which stores they valued the most and would like to see reopen on their high street, and a local bakery came in at the top of their list. So the Community Group asked any local landlords who had empty properties if they would be interested in letting for a pop-up shop.” He added that his company could not justify spending its normal new store refurbishment costs of £70,000, but set a £5,000 budget to transform the 250 sq ft shop.
Parsons explained: “The store has a limited product range which features all of the normal bakery classics…but has just a few options in each category so we can offer all our ‘best sellers’ and also minimise any waste. We were clear and honest from the outset that this pop up had to generate a profit and was not a charity cause. We have been delighted with the results. The store trades profitably and above our initial expectations, and we are exploring all options for continuing at the site after the three month period runs out. The local residents love having a baker back on their street and have been very supportive – at the end of the day if they use it, it will stay trading.”
We hear a lot about support for startup companies wanting to trade from a pop up store. This is a great reminder that established businesses can benefit from the pop up model and play a really important part in regenerating our high streets in doing so.
99 Risbygate Street, Bury St Edmunds will host a pop up shop offering advice on how to keep warm in winter and how to get help if you are struggling to pay your energy bills. Visitors will be able to find out if they are eligible for some of the free help on offer including insulation, draught proofing or assistance with paying fuel bills or the loan of a heater. The ‘Warm Homes Healthy People’ scheme also offers home energy surveys and can help owners or tenants with a private landlord.
Launching this week is the first pop up shop managed by PopUp Britain outside of London. The pop up is based in Moreton-Marsh in Gloucestershire and will offer 12 small businesses the chance to trial their companies in a retail space.
StartUp Britain co-founder Emma Jones has indicated that this is just the beginning of PopUp Britain’s national roll out, stating: “We are delighted to be able to take our first steps outside London. Watch out for many more coming soon”.