Making Your Sales Pop-Up in Fourth Quarter

The holiday season is rapidly approaching, and the news from the retail front is not creating high expectations. 

The September sales reports, recently released, offered some hope; however, overall retail sales were down.  It’s just that some retail stores performed better than expected.  Internet sales, while better than expected, just managed to stay ahead of the traditional retailer.

The automotive category took a real hit.  Not surprisingly, it seems that the “cash for clunkers” program failed to produce long term momentum.  Rather, this tactic only served to create a buying pattern shift, without generating an increased demand level.

The approaching holiday season appears to favor discount and dollar stores.  Thus, the department and specialty store categories are cutting prices, and reducing inventories.  At  the same time the “luxury” stores are not recovering as expected, and sales forecasts in this area are being reduced.  These factors, along with other considerations resulted in a downward shift for holiday sales, with the National Retail Federation projecting a one percent decline this holiday season.

Another report just released shows a significant increase in the retail space vacancy rate.  Store closings have resulted in lower occupancy in retail centers across the country.  Major shopping centers are at an all time high, but the strip center has an even higher rate of vacancy, with many new developments only partially occupied.

Okay … so where’s the good news?  The answer is the “Pop-Up” shop, the new trend in retail.  It all started about two years ago, when J.C. Penney opened a temporary shop in Times Square.  The results exceeded expectations, and similar tactics were employed in other selective markets.

The basic concept is to lease empty space for a short term, often to feature seasonal merchandise.  These temporary shops are now being used to serve a variety of purposes.  Target uses the “pop-up” to expand coverage for a store opening.  Toys R’ Us will have 80 outside shops as well as almost 200 seasonal shops in their Babies R’ Us stores.  Gap is using the “pop-up” to accent a single merchandise category.  Another approach is the event promotion, with Halloween Express opening in several Circuit City locations.  Many local or regional retailers are now examining the pop-up concept.

The television sales opportunity for the “pop-up” is short term, high impact.  Generate reach and high frequency for immediate sales!  The key is to quickly identify a prospect, and present a tactical plan that is immediate in nature.  It should be recognized that this may not be a one time opportunity.  The “pop-up” can be moved to various locations in a single market.  Then too, the seasonal approach, like Halloween, can be repeated next year.  If the success that has been evidenced thus far is an indicator, the potential for sales must be explored.

PS:  Just as we published this article … thought you’d want to know that Limited now has a Pop-Up shop in Soho, which will be there until the first of the year.  Also, there are 75 Halloween Pop-Up shops in New York city.  This is going to be an even bigger new business opportunity in 2010, but the way it is approached from a TV sales point-of-view is very different.  It’s a fast moving, high impact, immediate action approach.

William “Mac” McDonald is a Senior Retail Marketing Specialist with ESA & Company. For over 40 years, Mac has focused on consumer actions that affect retail tactics and strategies. An advisor to the National Retail Federation (NRF), Mac can be reached at
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