Pop-Ups are Bringing Excitement to Brick and Mortar Retailing

No Longer Just a Retail Trend, but a Way to Build Traffic and Brands
They began popping up in the bleak days of the last recession when shopping was dormant and retail vacancy rates reached 13 percent. Their focus was typically seasonal and their leases were temporary but they helped many a retail property manager survive the downturn. But the pop-ups didn’t fade away when the economy bounced back. In fact, these stop-gap stores have evolved into a $10 billion industry that some retail trend watchers say can help bricks and mortar merchants counter their online competition.

Pop-Up Retail: Custom Made for the Experience Economy
No longer just sellers of Halloween costumes or holiday decorations, pop-ups now provide innovative, sometimes daring, ways for retailers and brands to lure shoppers (especially experience-seeking Millennials) away from their screens. These temporary retail outposts sprout in urban centers, in malls, galleries and public spaces and in unexpected venues like barges, buses, even shipping containers. Known for pushing the envelope of retailing, they rely on the elements of novelty and surprise not associated with traditional stores. Read more: http://popupinsider.com/pop-up-phenomenon/

By now, virtually every brand category has at least dabbled in pop-up retailing. From big names like Nike, Reebok, Levi’s and Samsung to avant designers like Comme des Garcons to newcomers like Etsy artisans, looking to test the market, all have gone the pop-up route. Target has used the pop-up concept repeatedly for cause marketing and to promote its top product lines. eBay stepped out of the virtual world with Showhouse pop-ups decked out in furnishing and accessories available for online bids. Then there’s the Meow Mix Cat Cafe for cats and their humans, which set up temporary residence on Times Square. The creativity shows no sign of stopping.

Traditional department stores have joined the pop-up phenomenon too. Nordstrom turned the concept around with Pop-In @ Nordstrom, where select branches play host to new designers and product purveyors, some chosen because they are usually unavailable in the local market.

What Makes Pop-Up Retail So Hot? Fun and Exclusivity
With their ingenious presentations and unexpected venues, pop-ups offer something absent from the typical shopping experience: fun. When Pop-Up Republic, a specialty marketing and management company, conducted a recent survey, they found that 30 percent of pop-up customers were looking for fun in their shopping experience. Besides fun, pop-ups deliver a sense of exclusivity. Merchandise is often new to the market, making buyers the first to own it. And since the stores operate on a temporary basis, opportunities to acquire merchandise or experience the environment are time-limited –also contributing to a sense of exclusivity. Read more:


Besides generating sales, pop-ups are attention magnets, capturing both news coverage and social media comments. Marketers are increasingly making them an integral component of their overall advertising initiatives.
More than a Retail Trend: Count on Pop-Ups to Keep Popping Up
Yes, those temporary tenants from a decade ago have morphed into a thriving sector of the retail industry. They are supported by specialty architects and designers like Lion’Esque Group, global consultants like Retail is Detail, and real estate firms like Storefront that match pop-up retailers with available space. And having put fun into shopping, they may be just the boost the old bricks and mortar world needs right now.

Outlook on Back-to-School Sales Has Retailers Cheering

Total Volume Projected to Reach Near-Record Levels for the 2016 Season

The school bell is ringing in the second biggest retail spending season of the year. Retail trend watchers are predicting more-than-healthy sales with shoppers in an upbeat mood and retailers and retail real estate companies like Levin are keeping a close eye on the action. The National Retail Federation (NRF) projects that total sales will approach a near-record level of $75.8 billion, up from $68 billion last year. The season began early with shoppers hitting stores and online sites in June, and so far the purchasing pace is strong. We’ll see the full story next month, but for now here’s a look at what’s behind the surge.

More Kids in School: A Retail Trend That Will Continue
As the NRF observed, the children of the first wave of the massive Millennial generation are beginning to swell the school age population, contributing to increased BTS spending (a retail trend that’s expected to continue over the next decade as the Millennials enter the job market and form families).

More Confidence in the Economy
Mid-July’s consumer confidence figures held steady with Americans reporting positive attitudes about the economy. That confidence is reflected in Deloitte’s ninth annual back- to-school survey in which 81 percent of respondents said their finances were better or the same as last year. It’s no surprise then that 39 percent of those polled by the Rakuten Marketing Survey said they plan to spend more on BTS purchases than last year. Depending on the source, the projected average spend ranges from $488 to $673 per K-12 student.

Starting Early, Spending More at Bricks and Mortars and Online
Online BTS shopping continues to climb – projected to expand by 9 percent in 2016. But bricks and mortar stores will continue to dominate, except in the electronics category where online is the top choice. Here’s where US shoppers, who’ve been buying for BTS since June, say they will be spending their dollars:

  • Discounters
  • Department Stores
  • Clothing Stores
  • Online (top of the list for electronic purchases)

Online is expected to continue to play a major role in BTS purchase decisions as shoppers (61 percent) reported in the Deloitte survey that they will research products, compare prices and look for deals online prior to heading out to shop. Fifty percent of those said they will rely on their smartphones when making purchasing decisions.

Free Shipping Will Drive Online Purchases, Store Pick-Up Appeals
According to the NRF, online BTS shoppers are heavily influenced by free shipping. Eighty-nine percent of those surveyed said they reject paying for delivery.

Ordering online with store pick-up was favored by 54 percent of the respondents, while 10 percent (predominantly male) wanted same day delivery.

Apparel Heads the BTS Shopping List, Lunch Boxes and Backpacks are the Most Sought-After Accessories
Clothing, electronics, shoes and supplies are the top categories on 2016’s BTS list. (For high school or college students, electronics lead the pack). Office supply stores and drug stores, long the source of pencils and paper, will likely feel new competition from kits marketed by schools or PTAs.

Topping the trends for elementary schoolers are the once-utilitarian lunch box and backpack, reborn in a wide variety of fabrics and styles. It’s Hello Kitty and My Little Pony themes for girls, while boys are opting for camo and superheroes. High-end backpacks for the elementary set feature LED lights, while packs for computer-toting high schoolers and college students offer multiple pockets for electronic gear and accessories.

Not surprisingly, school-bound girls are going for animal prints and glitter, while boys are opting for Under Armor and Nike apparel. But surprisingly, kids are helping fund their BTS buys. The Deloitte study projects that elementary school students will lay out an average of $20 and middle schoolers an average of $33 for BTS purchases. Is this the influence of thrifty Millennial parents? Stay tuned. And stay tuned as well for the final numbers on BTS 2016.

Retail Trend: Fashion Shifts from Exclusive to Inclusive

Social Media, Population Diversity and Movements Like Body Positive Are Driving Changes in Women’s Wear

From the catwalk to the pages of glossy magazines to malls across America, inclusive fashion is making a statement. The 2004 Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, celebrating women of all looks and sizes, launched a trend that now includes not just fashions for the plus-size market but also chic designs that accommodate the dress codes of Muslim and Orthodox Jewish women, and fit the needs of those with physical limitations. Retail trend watchers say demographic diversity and the open attitudes of the Millennials are fueling the changes, along with social campaigns from Body Positive and the Modesty Movement. Fashion bloggers and online communities have also given a collective voice to groups once overlooked by designers and retailers.

At the Forefront of Inclusive Fashion: The Plus-Size Shopper
Clothing for style-conscious, plus-size women broke the exclusive nature of the fashion industry. Though Lane Bryant launched the concept of plus-sizes early in the last century, the choices were dowdy and designed to conceal rather than glamorize.

Setting a New Standard for Fashion and Beauty
“Role models, not runway models,” is a slogan now heeded across the fashion industry as role models hit the runway. The movement began over a decade ago and reached some major moments with Eden Miller’s plus-size show at New York’s 2015 Fashion Week and Lane Bryant’s #PlusIsEqual ad in the centerfold of Vogue’s September 2015 issue, and Nike’s #BetterForIt campaign. Add to those, the appearance of plus-size model Ashley Graham on the cover of Sports Illustrated 2016 swimsuit issue and it seems that fashion and pop culture are re-defining the standard of beauty.

No Longer a Retail Trend, but a $17-Billion Dollar Market
Designers and retailers alike have embraced the $17-billion plus-size market. Sixty-seven percent of U.S. women, in fact, are in the 14 to 34 size range and they are demanding chic contemporary looks that celebrate, not just accommodate, their body type. And everywhere from discounters to high-end boutiques, plus-sizes have taken a prominent place in the inventory.

Religion and Personal Preference Drive a New Retail Trend: Modesty in Fashion
Despite the hyper-sexy looks of contemporary fashion, there is a significant demand for conservative clothing. Driven by the dress codes of faith groups, the push for conservative fashion is also promoted by the Modesty Movement, which urges women to reject the role of sex object. Whatever their motive in covering up, women still look for fashionable and cutting-edge clothes that honor their beliefs and reflect their personal style. (Read more: http://www.today.com/style/why-covering-cool-inside-fashions-modesty-movement-mormon-style-bloggers-t12216)

Major Designers are Eyeing the Muslim Market
High-fashion hijabs and other clothing and accessories for Muslim women have long been popular throughout the Middle East and are readily available online. Now they’ve arrived in bricks-and-mortar stores like Uniqlo and H&M. One retailer, the Verona Collection, recently opened a store in Orlando Fashion Square, devoted to Muslim styles. The chic, layered looks are also attracting non-Muslim shoppers. (Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/modest-muslim-clothing-store-hopes-to-cater-to-people-of-all-faiths_us_573a1345e4b060aa781ae2e2) With Muslims worldwide expected to spend $327-billion on fashion and footwear by 2019, it’s no surprise that Zara, DKNY, Oscar de la Renta, Tommy Hilfiger and others are designing for this market.

Hasidic Sisters Launch a Fashion Line with Appeal Beyond the Orthodox
Brooklyn, the epicenter of hipness, is becoming the source of trendy styles that satisfy both the Orthodox Jewish dress code and the desire to look contemporary. Sisters Mimi Hecht and Mushky Notik, founders of MiMu Maxi, produce a line of billowy dresses, skirts, wraps and leggings that reflect a “worldly sensibility” that has earned them 18,000 Instagram followers. Their designs draw shoppers beyond their Orthodox community, with 50 percent of their buyers Christians. A quarter of their customers, they say, are non-religious women, seeking a conservative, but fashion-forward look. (Read more: http://nytlive.nytimes.com/womenintheworld/2015/10/27/modesty-moves-into-the-mainstream/)

A Retail Trend on the Horizon: Adaptive Fashion
Stylish clothing that accommodates a variety of physical challenges is perhaps the newest aspect of inclusive fashion. But with 60 million people in the U.S. living with a permanent disability, there’s a need waiting to be filled. For the past two NY Fashion Weeks, the runways have been graced by models with a variety of physical and cognitive challenges, who’ve won standing ovations. (Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/new-york-fashion-week-models-disabilities_n_6737498)

Now, designers are stepping up with fashions that fit the unique needs of this demographic. Tommy Hilfiger, who has launched a children’s line, is among the first big names. In addition to clothing, the company offers sensitivity training for sales associates who will be working with children and their parents. Young designer Lucy Jones, who made Forbes “30 Under 30” list is designing practical fashions for the wheelchair bound. And top schools like Parsons and FIT now offer classes in inclusive design.