In early back-to-school push, retailers look to pop-up stores
By Jay Keller
Retailers for years have been using the temporary-store concept to capitalize on seasonal events but the early jump on back-to-school sales in 2013 will broaden even more the reach of the pop-up store.
Every October in vacant shopping centers and malls across the U.S., Halloween stores appear in empty storefronts to serve the rising demand for costumes, decorations and other creepy-fun things.
Then, along come the Christmas stores, which seem to open earlier and earlier each year, and also prove to be another money-making staple for retailers looking to temporarily offer popular items at low prices while boosting shopping options during a busy shopping season.
For this year, at least, customers will see an even wider variety of specialty items.
Target is hitting the road in August and September, travelling to five college campuses to set up freestanding, glass-enclosed “Live Dorm Rooms” furnished by Target and occupied by students. Students can scan and buy while also taking advantage of coupons, giveaways and other promotions.
“Target knows that back-to-school shopping is a busy time for parents and students,” Target marketing SVP Rick Gomez said last week in a statement. “To make the shopping experience as fun and easy as possible, Target tailors our assortment and our resources to help students choose products that show their personal style.”
Other retailers like Jansport, Toys R Us, Staples and Bed Bath & Beyond are combining past market tests and seasonal successes to roll out plans for school-related pop-up stores in the late summer to early fall, according to a recent Reuters report.
Overall, retailers agree that pop-up stores do very well for seasonal shopping events, including back-to-school, which opens the door for the sale of school supplies, dorm-room necessities and other educational tools.
Pop-up stores have been around since the 1990s but have recently become an emerging trend in cities big and small, spanning many varieties from mall kiosks to virtual outlets stationed at airports to food trucks, for example.
Although these temporary retail outlets were once reserved for edgy fashion designers and electronics vendors, the number of these stores has continued to rise over the past two years.
And, along with the rising trend comes a wider variety of stores.
Even the pop-music sensations One Direction opened a pop-up store in the Mall of Americas this past March for six weeks offering an extra-large concert retail booth.
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