Retail Pop-Ups Evolve as Landlords Seek Fresh Appeal
The bright neon sign declares “You are magic!” as a room fills with a rainbow of lights activated by a couple, Jaime Martinez and Cristina Cave, clasping hands while touching sensors.
The two wriggle their bodies and twist their arms up, activating more lights, all while a camera behind them discreetly snaps photos of their colorful dance. Within minutes, the camera creates an Instagram-ready graphic that is emailed to their inbox for social media sharing.
Cave and Martinez are among hundreds of people who visited Color Factory, an interactive pop-up art exhibit in a former 20,000-square-foot furniture store in Houston on a recent winter afternoon. Families, couples, and children crowded the sold-out exhibit that day, jumping into the NASA-themed plastic ball pit, drawing on walls with three-foot long blue pens, munching on macarons and mochi ice cream, and sniffing works of art that have been infused with scents of freshly cut grass and butter popcorn.
Color Factory represents an increasingly important new breed of retail tenant that could provide one answer to the struggle retail property owners in national and Philadelphia commercial real estate markets have as they search for ways to lure in customers as online shopping grows. So-called pop-up shops, defined because they have temporary leases, have been around for years mostly as seasonal retail strategies around Halloween or Christmas.
This excerpt from a CoStar Realty Information Inc. report by Marissa Luck involving U.S. and Philadelphia commercial properties is being made through Philadelphia commercial real estate broker Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm.
This new wave of pop-up stores in the U.S. commercial real estate market – including Philly retail space – is a radical departure from the traditional seasonal model, and they are breaking into hybrids, according to a recent report. Many of the concepts like Color Factory don’t even bank on selling visitors goods and instead rely on admission costs and social media attention for their bottom line.
Pop-up retail is estimated to be a $50-billion-and-growing industry in the U.S. commercial real estate market – including Philly retail space – and, according to industry sources, the number of pop-ups in New York City doubled in 2019 and is now right around 200.
The pace of the pop-up boom among national and Philadelphia commercial real estate properties is expected to continue in 2020. Experts expect pop-up leases to further entrench themselves in major metropolitan cities and expand out across the country into more medium-sized cities. Though temporary in nature, the pop-up lease could become a permanent piece of commercial real estate, though the form is changing.
The rise in pop-ups is a response to the retail apocalypse as a record number of storefronts close amid changing consumer habits and the rise of online shopping, leaving millions of square feet of retail space vacant across the country. While pop-ups aren’t expected to be the solution to the rising tide of retail vacancies, they do represent an increasingly innovative way for landlords to generate income and create foot traffic at a property. – By Marissa Luck, CoStar Realty Information Inc.
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