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Pop-up stores helping to attract footfall to bricks and mortar


Staying power: The Gym + Coffee clothing retailer opened as a pop-up shop in Dundrum Town Centre two years ago and is still there

Staying power: The Gym + Coffee clothing retailer opened as a pop-up shop in Dundrum Town Centre two years ago and is still there

Staying power: The Gym + Coffee clothing retailer opened as a pop-up shop in Dundrum Town Centre two years ago and is still there

Manufacturers and service providers are playing a new role in the property market by using retail properties to promote brand awareness through pop-stores.

While these temporary occupancies might be frowned on by some investors who seek the security of long-term tenancies for their stores, there is increasing evidence that some landlords are embracing pop-up occupiers.

Indeed, the frequent changeovers add variety and activity to the range of offerings in some shopping centres and department stores.

Big international firms such as Unilever and brands such as Peroni have adopted the pop-up approach either in standalone stores, kiosks or in concessionary positions in department stores.

Furthermore, their success is being seen as a reflection of the continuing importance of bricks and mortar in complementing the growth of digital sales.

Anna Kelly of JLL says that pop-ups are being used as a key part of brands' omnichannel marketing plans. "If a consumer has a good brand experience in the real world, they are much more likely to buy online," she said.

In addition to businesses offering season-specific products and services throughout the year, pop-ups have shown many other benefits. Ice-cream brand Magnum achieved successfully increased brand awareness in recent years with its summertime pop-up shops in Arnotts.

Drinks companies need official licences to serve wine, beer and spirits but House of Peroni, the beer company, were able to use the previous liquor licence held by the former Dandelion space on Stephen's Green when it held its tastings.

In 2018, it paid €37,500 to rent the unit with an 8,600 sq ft ground floor for a month from June to July.

Prior to this, Samsung was in the unit. Following on from this letting, Paddy Power took occupancy in the same space for two weeks in September 2018 for a museum-style pop-up displaying previous promotions and stunts.

At least one bank has also used pop-ups to test demand. Last November, Permanent TSB launched a banking kiosk in Mahon Point Shopping Centre, south of Cork City, which is running for three months until February 3. Customers can avail of a range of services including mortgages, term loans, current accounts, savings and investments, home insurance and SME banking.

Declan O'Brien of agents Savills, who was involved in this letting, says that as well as testing new products, "pop-ups enhance the tenant mix within shopping centres creating a buzz and bringing something new to the customer".

Ms Kelly also finds that pop-ups have improved both the quality and creativity of their offerings.

"I predict they will continue to grow in this direction in 2020,'' she added.

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She said pop-ups are also being used in information campaigns. She instances how Facebook availed of pop-ups to address some of the issues arising from negative press about users' online security and privacy settings. Facebook opened three pop-up cafés in Dublin, Galway and Cork following a poll that revealed 60pc of the Irish public had concerns about their privacy on the social media platform.

Referring to testing and trialling of new products and formats, she says retailers avail of pop-ups to deliver products directly to their target market, as well as get a foothold in new ones.

For the most part, landlord's do not tend to hold dedicated units for pop-ups. They would use pop-ups to fill void periods, eg if a tenant had vacated and another tenant was due to take up occupation in say, six months' time, they may choose to fill the space with a pop-up.

Nevertheless, some outlets have attracted repeat pop-ups, notably the 2,298 sq ft outlet at 32 Grafton Street. Over the past few years it has hosted pop-ups by car maker Volvo and Lismara, Lidl's clothing brand.

Nearby on South William Street, a number of brands have availed of two premises: The Georgian Society and 57 South William Street. The latter has attracted one of Ireland's leading whiskey brands, Jameson, a number of times. In the two weeks before Christmas, it hosted live podcasts from household names such as Blindboy, offered whiskey tastings and attracted considerable footfall. The property has previously seen pop-ups from Coca Cola, Alpro, Samsung and more.

Some online retailers also avail of them to see if they should add bricks and mortar outlets to their operations. An example is Gym + Coffee, the Irish clothing retailer. Two years ago, Dundrum Town Centre offered the web-based business a pop-up shop and it was so successful that it is still there. Not alone that but it has since expanded to include stores in Cork, Crescent Shopping Centre, Limerick, and Swords. A UK outlet is also planned.

Even established Irish retailers have successfully trialled. Carroll's Irish Gifts tested their Aran Sweater Store on a pop-up basis on Stephen's Green just in time for the Christmas trading period.

Ms Kelly said: "Retailers face the challenge of gathering accurate results in a relatively short time frame. Six months to a year is the minimum time frame for trialling in physical stores with a pop-up. The general result is that retailers become increasingly successful the longer they've been in a location, due to factors like word of mouth and consumer awareness."

Among the start-ups to avail of them is POCO by Pippa O'Connor. It has become a regular pop-up in Dundrum Town Centre. It also launched a Christmas pop-up in Blanchardstown Centre last month.

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