Are pop-up stores coming back stronger following the pandemic?

14th June 2022

Following the pandemic, we have seen a rise in the consumer need for interaction. With more people willing to try new things, now is the perfect time to utilise a popup space to raise brand awareness and build bonds with your customers. 

ECommerce was on the rise before the pandemic, which negatively affected the high street. But following COVID-19, we have seen an increase in the popularity of consumers heading into stores to regain the lost connections they missed during the long periods of isolation. Whilst this is great for the high street and the physical stores, not every eCommerce has the ability or finances to bring its shop to life. That is where a popup space can come into play; brands can make a big impact on the high street at a relatively low cost. Within this blog, we will discuss the effectiveness of popup stores and how you can best utilise the tools of 2022 to engage audiences. 

What makes a successful popup store?

Popup stores can be run for 1 day or 6 months. This is entirely up to your brand. But we recommend that they are fun, engaging, and sell more than just your product. Consumers head into stores because they want to feel like they are receiving an experience and like instant purchase satisfaction. Any good shopping trip will have activated all of the consumer’s senses, leaving a long-lasting impression regardless of whether they made a purchase in-store. 

We must think of pop-up stores as a channel in which we can engage consumers in the marketing funnel. Without the physical interaction consumers are craving, it is difficult for your online brand to deliver its purpose. 

How has technology changed the way popup stores are run?

Technology advancements have allowed marketers to bridge the gap between online and offline to create a seamless approach between the two. Gone are the days of popup stores solely being a brand awareness tool; now, with the right technology, they can also be excellent data collection tools. They allow your brand to gain signups, make sales and deliver out-of-the-ordinary experiences for tech-savvy consumers. 

Before, popups would require multiple staff to run and manage the stores on a short-term basis, just like a regular high street store. However, with such uncertainty of the length of employment, finding the right staff to commit to short periods can be tricky. Which could lead to the impact your brand ambassadors make not being as effective. However, the right ambassador for your brand is crucial and should be one of the most important factors to consider in the planning stage. 

But with technological advancements, Amazon has launched touchless stores which charge your amazon account automatically without the need for checkouts. Whilst we do still recommend trusted brand ambassadors, we do think it is important to highlight the different opportunities. Without the need to be trained in the store’s technical side, the brand ambassadors can deliver your brand personality better and engage with consumers on a more personal level. 

Social media campaigns have become essential for any experiential marketing campaign in 2022. Appearing on the high street with no actual warning meant the engagement was not as high. However, now with more and more people looking to their smartphones for local recommendations, your popup store will not go unmissed. 

With Instagramable stations essential for every activation, your pop-up store will have a wider reach. As consumers love to share their experiences, FOMO grows, and more consumers will head to find your store, especially if it has gone viral. 

One of the most significant powers of a pop-up store is the sense of urgency it creates due to the time limit. That fear of missing out paired with a whole sensory shopping experience is guaranteed to see high levels of return. Taking this further, your brand can connect with consumers worldwide if correctly paired with a digital marketing campaign. 

According to a commissioned Forrester Consulting study conducted on behalf of Shopify. 32% of brands said they’d establish or expand their use of pop-up and in-person experiences in the next year, while 31% said they planned on establishing or expanding their physical retail footprint.

Are we going back to the old-school approach of touch before you buy? 

Touch was one of the things consumers missed most when stores closed during the pandemic. The ability to touch an item before buying it gives it more personality and makes the consumer feel more connected with an object. Items can be sentimental, purposeful or just a want for decoration, but by enabling consumers to investigate this first-hand, you can connect with them personally. Popup stores allow consumers to feel associated with the products and your brand. It brings your eCommerce store to life and sells the lifestyle when you put a face to the brand. 

With everything available online, it is impossible to know what you are getting when you make an online purchase. Instore purchases remove that risk. A secure purchase paired with an experience will increase brand awareness, and loyalty as consumers will share their experience with others via word of mouth. 

The percentage of consumers shopping in-store has risen from pre-pandemic levels of 60% to 72%, further proving the consumer’s desire for human interaction. Douglas McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart, believes shoppers missed the store experience during the pandemic: “When the pandemic allowed it, people came back to stores. I think they like stores and they want to have that [in-store] experience. They enjoy seeing merchandise and being around each other. And that’s why omnichannel makes so much sense.” 

When is the best time to open a popup?

Of course, when to run an activation will differ per brand depending on your offerings. However, certain times of the year are guaranteed to be busier than others. We also must not forget that a pop-up does not need to be a store in a shopping centre; there are many options which your brand can utilise to engage audiences. 

As you will see in our latest whitepaper, shopping centres are a great place for engaging audiences with their open space, guaranteed footfall and location. But if your brand does not want to utilise the large foyers or the busy walkways with popup stands and experiential activations, then there are more options. 

GottaBe! can often be found supporting Dorset tea along the Dorset coast in the branded caravan handing out tea samples. The simple yet effective use of a caravan suits the brand and appeals to consumers. The caravan aspect makes it easy to move around to target multiple audiences in specific areas where we know the audience will be. It also provides excellent content opportunities as it sits beautifully along the Dorset coast. 

Spring – Summer 

The warmer weather often brings more people outside who are open to exploring and trying new experiences. Due to the better weather conditions, brands also have more room for creativity in the activations they set out to do. 


November to January often see months of activations targeting the busy high streets. But we do not just mean pop-up activations from your favourite brands. Smaller brands also come into play with Christmas markets providing the perfect platform for small businesses to reach the crowds in a purchase mindset. 


Whilst Christmas is one of the largest holiday celebrations for many in the UK. There are other ethnic holidays which are widely celebrated. Diwali and Ramadan, to mention a few are great opportunities to target ethnic audiences in a culturally appropriate way effectively. 


The back-to-school phase is an excellent time for brands to target parents and students with merchandise. However, university students are the most engaging audience to target at this time. As the students head to explore their new homes for the next couple of years, they are far more open to engaging with free pop-up activation. As we know, consumers like to receive things for free, but students love free items. Providing an experience they can get involved in will become engrained in their memory and is more likely to stick with them. 

Ready to run a popup activation? 

GottaBe! can help you. Our field and experiential marketing experts know all the best spots to engage audiences in a pop-up activation in 2022. Whether you want us to create, source or staff your activation, we have a solution. Our creative team are ready to think outside the box and always develops campaigns that get people talking.