Close this search box.

Fast-growing retail pop-up phenomenon contributes £2.1bn to the UK economy

This is an archived article - we have removed images and other assets but have left the text unchanged for your reference

Pop-up retail shops contribute £2.1bn a year to the UK economy – and are a phenomenon that’s growing faster than the retail industry as a whole, a new study has found.

Temporary shops, used by traders from online retailers testing an offline presence, brands testing a new product, restauranteurs, and many others, currently contribute 0.6% of total UK retail turnover. The sector is expected to grow by 8.4% over the next 12 months, the Pop-Up UK study from CEBR (Centre for Economics and Business Research) and communications company EE has found.

The study forecasts that the pop-up shop industry will grow almost 2.5 times faster than the traditional UK retail market over the next year. Already some 23,400 people work in nearly 10,000 pop-up shops across the UK.

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.”

But, says the Pop-Up UK report, growth could be even faster if barriers including a lack of flexible short-term contracts, obstructive business rates and rents, and a lack of access to technology, were reduced.

EE has now struck a partnership with pop-up space marketplace Appear Here, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and entrepreneurs working in the sector to launch the Pop-Up UK campaign. It aims to help 3,000 entrepreneurs set up pop-up shops over the next three years, through measures including mentoring from Appear Here chief executive and founder Ross Bailey (pictured) and EE, a Pop-Up Retail Bundle from EE supported by a dedicated helpline, and a step-by-step guide to starting a pop-up shop.

“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,” said Bailey. “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.”

Mike Tomlinson, director of small business at EE, 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.”

Entrepreneurs interested in applying for the mentorship programme should email

Read More

Register for Newsletter

Group 4 Copy 3Created with Sketch.

Receive 3 newsletters per week

Group 3Created with Sketch.

Gain access to all Top500 research

Group 4Created with Sketch.

Personalise your experience on