Pop-up Shops – The solution for a struggling High Street?
Whilst reading Retail Week it was highlighted in their online section that retailers will be able to open pop-up shops more easily under new Government plans to reduce red tape. The Government revealed proposals recently to scrap restrictions that hinder businesses from temporarily using vacant shops in the hope of filling gaps on the High Street – it was reported.
This ties in with a number of conversations I have had with colleagues over the last few weeks regarding such pop-up shops; their benefits and drawbacks for Landlords and, more interestingly, their role at rejuvenating the High Street in general. It would seem that the idea has been around for some time, perhaps originating in London where designers, artists and the fashion industry agreed ‘softer’ short term deals with Landlords to test their products and ideas on the High Street, for a limited period of time. Some of these went onto become successful outlets, helping to shape the ‘Boutique’ High Street appeal we see today.
More recently, online retailers with a tested and already successful product distributed via the web have seen an opportunity to utilise this format to help push their virtual sales onto the High Street. With the demise of a number of High Street names since the economic downturn, coupled with the introduction of vacant rates on commercial premises in 2008, even institutional Landlords are now beginning to see the benefits of such proposals from relatively unknown retail occupiers.
Whilst the covenant strength may be low, the fit-out minimal and the lease terms cheap and overly flexible: it is hard to disagree that the High Street looks far better occupied by these pop-up’s than it does littered with agents letting boards. Coming from an agent’s perspective, that may sound strange, however with the increasing amount of High Street stock available nationally, many letting agents will agree that a premises neighboured by two vacant similar premises is far less attractive to an occupier and ultimately harder to let.
In honesty it is likely that, if pop-up shops can play a part in the rejuvenation of the struggling High Street, it may well be just that: a part. However in challenging times it is exciting to see fledgling retailers taking the initiative and ultimately the risk, in an attempt to bring their brand to the High Street. With Landlords able to see the benefits, even if just to mitigate a business rates bill temporarily, perhaps pop-up shops will play a bigger part in saving your local High Street than we anticipate.
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