The UK’s high streets may not be in the rudest of health but reports of their demise are premature. As much as online retail may have challenged the dominance of bricks and mortar shops in recent years, physical retail outlets can complement rather than compete against internet sellers. Therefore the need for shops to choose the right location for their business is as strong as ever.
One comparatively new type of outlet is the pop-up shop – a physical retail outlet that is planned from the outset to only operate for a set period of time. The concept itself is hardly new of course, as examples can be seen in shopping mall units filled with fireworks, Christmas decorations or calendars for just a few months of the year.
What’s different now is that site owners are much more willing to let shops and food outlets come in for a short period to test the waters or capitalise on a trend. In some cases, local authorities will offer reduced or ‘free’ business rates for such shops to help revitalise areas in need of a boost. In 2012, the government announced changes to reduce the cost of planning applications for pop-up shops – something that had previously averaged £1,245.
There’s also a trend of online retailers using physical stores to showcase their goods. The most ironic example of this to date is Amazon, which opened a small bookstore in its home city of Seattle. It’s not just sales though: several online retailers have set up “click and collect” locations to make it easier to sell to people who can’t be home during the day to accept deliveries of bulky items.
While the set-up costs may be smaller and there’s less of a long-term gamble, it’s still important that retailers pick the right location for these unconventional outlets, both from an immediate financial perspective and to make sure that firms that are trying out a concept or product line get a “fair shake” to gauge the audience. Location data intelligence, which displays multiple sources of data in a visual manner for more intuitive insight, remains a key tool when making such decisions.