Retail Pop-Up Solutions: Malls Are Not Dead — They Are Evolving

Ten years ago, suburban malls were the middle of life for Americans, particularly American teens. Malls were where you went to get a prom dress or a new pair of jeans; the food court was where you gathered with friends or flirted with your high school crush.

Today’s teens still prioritize these vital tasks — but on Instagram, not in the mall.

The over publicized thought of”retail apocalypse” is nothing new. For more than ten years, mall retailers have coped with greater competition from e-commerce websites — and, of course, changing consumer habits. But while the U.S. mall-vacancy rate hit a new high in 2018, a new retail pop-up solutions could change everything.

And it all begins with the duration of leases.

Shorter rentals lure smaller brands

In 2018, mall titan Macerich Co.. Launched BrandBox, a radically new leasing program designed to lure e-commerce retailers. Once upon a time, retailers had to register multi-year rentals to land coveted mall property. BrandBox, on the other hand, offers 6 to 12-month “pop-up” lease contracts. With this lease arrangement, new or small brands may experiment with brick-and-mortar solutions without being tied to a place for ages.

As Kevin McKenzie, Macerich’s chief digital officer, stated,”Rather than selling real estate, we are selling retail pop-up solutions.”

Younger shoppers need in-person experiences and connection

If you are thinking this solution seems like a rebrand of this strategy vacation retailers have deployed in malls for years, you have got the wrong idea. Macerich isn’t only trying to fill a vacant space — they are testing a version to support evolving consumer habits. In 2018, shoppers — notably Gen Z and millennials — started returning to brick and mortar retailers. The sudden trend is indicative of a wider”retail renaissance,” but food court soft pretzels are not what entices these shoppers — they are on the search for unique experiences and the opportunity to connect on a more personal level with their favourite brands.

To meet customers’ changing requirements, many brands turned to pop-ups or flex retail spaces. However, for younger brands, hosting a pop-up could be tricky: to be effective, you need property with the ideal infrastructure, the ideal location, and the ideal price. Macerich expects BrandBox will send all three.

Malls Provide brands a simpler pop-up solution

Located at Tysons Corner Center near Washington, D.C., BrandBox offers retailers the opportunity to call one of the most precious popular shopping malls in the country home. The 11,000-square-foot area is huge — big enough to sponsor at least six pop-up retailers at one time. Movable walls divide the distance, so retailers can carve their distinctive corner, giving shoppers a more memorable and romantic shopping experience. And, so far as infrastructure goes, BrandBox has it all: fittings like shelving and light are already in place, and the mall provides information on foot traffic, help with staffing and marketing, and radio-frequency identification tags for stock.

These retail pop-up solutions eliminate lots of the obstacles to launching a pop-up for smaller e-commerce businesses. “We see BrandBox as a secure environment to check our new in a mall,” said Matt Scanlan, co-founder and CEO of Naadam, among the first retailers to sign on with BrandBox. “They have set us up with retail technologies and subscription applications which are normally inefficient to set up for a pop-up but may be transformative concerning learning.”

Rather than navigating sprawling department stores and exhausted food courts, shoppers will experience malls as an eclectic incubator for up-and-coming brands. Subsequently, malls will flourish — regaining correlation and earning market share.

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Realtors and mall owners back the tendency

Needless to say, BrandBox is not alone in pushing the mall pop concept ahead. On Black Friday, mall operator Simon showcased Launchpad by Simon, a pop-up highlighting new products and trends, at shopping malls around the U.S. Shopping center owner Kimco Realty started testing a short-term rental pilot program. And sites like Storefront and Appear Here offer you Airbnb-esque services, pairing brands with short term rentals in retail spaces.

Mohamed Haouache, Storefront’s Chief Executive Officer, believes the pop-up mall tendency has burden — and could change how we experience malls entirely. “It shows, for many malls, their earnings models will change completely,” stated Haouache.

An evolution is underway

For shoppers, the shift could be critical. Malls were developed to heighten the purchasing experience — they had been a distance where teens could safely collect and families could see on weekend excursions. Moving ahead, malls can be even greater than this: they will be a place to connect with new, exciting brands, support local businesses and have unique adventures, again and again through retail pop-up solutions.