Pop-up retailers contribute £2.1bn to UK economy, reports CEBR/EE


Pop-up retailers contribute £2.1bn to the UK economy each year (equivalent to 0.6% of total UK retail turnover) and the sector is expected to grow by 8.4% over the next 12 months, according to a study released today from economists CEBR and EE, the digital communications company.

An estimated 23,400 people work in nearly 10,000 pop-up shops across Britain, ranging from temporary restaurants and shops to product trials from recognised brands, and the industry is projected to grow nearly 2.5 times faster than the traditional UK retail market¹ in the next year.

However, the Pop-Up UK report reveals growth could be even faster, with CEBR stating that if the barriers to pop-up retailing were reduced, double digit growth could be easily achieved. The most significant barriers include lack of flexible short term contracts, finding appropriate and flexible space, obstructive business rates and rents, and lack of access to technology including waiting over two weeks for fixed-line internet access.

Even during the 15th anniversary of the modern pop-up these barriers persist, which is why EE has partnered with marketplace for pop-up space, Appear Here, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and a range of pop-up entrepreneurs to launch the Pop-Up UK campaign.

Spearheaded by Ross Bailey, the CEO of Appear Here, along with Mike Tomlinson, EE’s director of small Business, EE’s Pop-Up UK campaign aims to help 3,000 entrepreneurs set up pop-up shops over the next 3 years. The campaign features:

  • How to start a pop-up shop guide – a step-by-step plan to pop-up success written by pop-up entrepreneurs, for pop-up entrepreneurs, which includes quotes and advice from success stories, including Playn Eyewear, Press London, Good & Proper Tea, The Ribman and Appear Here
  • 4G Pop-Up bundle – EE is launching the world’s first mobile data offer specifically designed for pop-up retailers. This new bundle, which provides pop-ups with an instant 4G connection for 30 days and can include other products such as the iZettle payment card reader, aims to help entrepreneurs overcome key technological barriers by providing instant connectivity, temporary plan periods and a range of devices
  • Mentoring and advice from Ross Bailey and EE – the 22 year old entrepreneur who established online pop-up space marketplace Appear Here, together with business and technology leaders from EE, will provide mentoring to select pop-ups, sharing tailored advice, guidance and top tips. Entrepreneurs interested in applying for the mentorship programme should email experts@ee.co.uk
  • EE support – sedicated EE helpline will provide support on the technology needed to establish a pop-up shop

Bailey said: “Pop-ups are the future of retail, and this campaign goes a long way to helping remove the barriers pop-ups are facing every day. Whether you’re a major retailer that wants to try out a new product line or just one person with a great idea – setting up a pop-up should be as easy as possible. This new Pop-Up UK campaign helps remove technological barriers plus helps connect entrepreneurs with their ideal pop-ups locations. However, there’s much more support needed to help pop-ups achieve their true potential, particularly from the Government.”

Tomlinson said: “Small businesses, and pop-ups in particular, face massive barriers and we’ve launched Pop-Up UK to stoke the fire under Britain’s pop-up retail economy.  As part of this campaign we’ve launched the Pop-Up Bundle, the world’s first data plan designed specifically to help pop-up retailers overcome the technological barriers they face.  Pop-ups can use the power of our 4G network to connect with their customers via social media, take mobile payments, collaborate with suppliers, and securely access all of their important data in the cloud.

“We’ve worked with a wide range of pop-up entrepreneurs to understand how we can help them achieve their goals. This campaign is built to provide aspiring pop-ups with the instant superfast 4G internet connections, flexible plans and technological hardware they’ve told us they need. By solving these problems we believe we can really make a difference, which is why we’ve committed to helping 3,000 pop-up entrepreneurs open shops over the next three years as part of the campaign.”

Richard Lim, head of business information at the British Retail Consortium, said: “These figures demonstrate the important role pop-up retail is playing in the UK economy, but we’re only at the beginning of this pop-up revolution. The novel use of these temporary spaces showcases the innovative nature of UK retail which continues to adapt to consumer demands and structural changes occurring throughout the industry.  This campaign is seeking to do the much-needed job of removing the barriers that are holding pop-ups backs from their true potential.”