Barker Proudlove: “Hidden costs” put off retailers from launching pop-ups

24th April 2023 | Jack Oliver

Retailers wanting to launch in pop-up spaces are made nervous by “hidden costs,” according to retail and leisure specialist Barker Proudlove.

Jessica Swain, retail and leisure surveyor for Contemporary, the agency’s short-term lettings initiative, describes the scheme as a stepping stone for smaller businesses between starting and long-term leases.

“A lot of people like the idea of having a physical space and seeing the potential of their product on the high street. But there’s understandably that nervousness of committing with the ‘what ifs’ playing in the back of the mind”, she told Completely Retail News.

Jessica Swain, retail and leisure surveyor at Barker Proudlove

Swain believes retailers are put off by some pop-up providers whose services require hidden costs.

She added that retailers can be reluctant to contact agents about launching pop-ups. When Barker Proudlove launched its initiative, it had to be proactive and approach retailers: “There’s no denying that we had to really push and promote.”

However as Contemporary has grown, so has its reputation. Retailers now come to them: “Now when we open our calendars we tend to find that we’re already fully booked months in advance”, Swain said.

As a result, Barker Proudlove is looking outside of its usual sites in the North West to launch more brands via Contemporary. Swain believes that it could reach 25 locations within the next two years: “It’s about finding the landlords who want to collaborate and we’re finding the more known we’re getting, more landlords are finding out about us and want to get involved.

“I think we’ll continue to grow over the next few years for sure.”

Google figures showed that brands that had experimented with pop-up shops reported a 46% increase in sales, a 51% rise in market visibility, 66% greater brand awareness, and a 46% spike in social-media engagement.

Despite this, very few landlords and leasing agents offer pop-up programmes.

Swain argues that pop-up retail is a more attractive prospect compared to more traditional forms of short-term lettings:

“A lot of landlords are looking at it and thinking from a marketing and asset management standpoint, it’s a win-win.”


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