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pop up holidays

When it comes to pop up retail “state-side” (ie. in the USofA), nothing quite compares to the surge of activity and sales towards the end of each (calendar) year. Given that it’s now late September, pretty soon retailers large and small will swing into the annual frenzy associated with “holiday season”, many employing temporary locations and casual staff… the very “foundations” of pop up…

Wikipedia says* holiday season is… “somewhat, a commercial term that applies, in the US, to the period that begins with Thanksgiving and ends with New Year’s Eve”…. That is, from mid/late November to the end of December (obviously including Christmas) –  which usually translates to the peak trading season for many retailers

In terms of pop up shops, you might be forgiven for assuming this just means many small to medium-size pop up entrepreneurs will open their doors around holiday season, hoping to ride the wave of “joy and happiness” around this time (and capture the most sales) – and you’d probably be quite right… But holiday season also means some big businesses (and I mean the BIGGEST) also gear up for this intense consumer period

Paving the way in big-business-holiday-season-pop-up-retail is Toys “R” Us – “the world’s leading dedicated toy and juvenile products retailer…. sold in 875 Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us stores in the United States and Puerto Rico, and in more than 625 international stores and over 140 licensed stores in 35 countries and jurisdictions”…* That is, these guys are serious players in retail – and probably know a thing or two about entrepreneurship… For the 2012 season Toys “R” Us is planning to open 150 to 200 temporary locations across the US – and is currently looking for around 45,000 casual workers to man those stores (and cope with the surge in on-line orders)

But before Americans race out to buy their toys (and turkeys ?) for the holiday season, there’s a “warm up” event – just to get those wallets open and credit cards dusted off… Every 31st October goblins and ghouls surge forth from every nook and cranny – giving rise to the phenomenon of “Halloween stores”. According to Wikipedia* (again)… a Halloween store is “a pop-up store or superstore that sells costumes and decorations for Halloween. They are very common in the United States and to some extent Canada, where the holiday and celebration preceding it are second only to Christmas in popularity and consumer spending. Hundreds of stores are open during the season each year”

In Australia we seem to float along from each minor surge in retail activity (Easter… Mother’s Day… Father’s Day…) toward the ultimate frenzy of December (Christmas) shopping… and then immediately into the Boxing Day / January Sales season. It’s always seemed odd to me, such effort / hype / spending leading up to Christmas (and everyone groaning never again….) – only then to re-hash it all and bring out sale merchandise the very next day… and sure-enough those crowds do come back !

For many retail segments December is a great time of year to host a pop up outlet – customers are out and in spending mode. But by January the mood probably changes a little…. we’re still on holiday, the sun is shining and life is pretty good – which should provide opportunities for some nice “buzz” – clever promotions leading to building brand awareness and goodwill, for those other segments just hoping to connect with their consumers….


Sources* : Wikipedia Holiday, Toys “R” Us About Us and Wikipedia Pop-up retail pages

featured image : Toys “R” Us, Times Square NYC

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