It’s the age old problem for any centre manager – a huge retailer has to call it a day and you’re left with a large unit, or a perceived gap, in your tenancies.

Following the recession, the retail and leisure world started to get savvy and inventive of how to fill these units, whether it be long or short term.

Pop-ups became a staple of every high street and centre who saw the need to recreate energy and buzz, and attract new and engaged shoppers. Many of the stores were ‘testing the water’ and many eventually saw reasons to stay for one reason or another.

Success for these short term sales spaces created businesses in themselves, with www.appearhere.co.uk becoming the one-stop (pardon the pun) shop for pop-up spaces across the UK.

In 2017, what is clear is that the retail landscape is changing and there are even fresher ways to reinject life into spaces that have been abandoned.

Here are our four top predictions for what empty stores could look like this year:

Amazon Lockers: There are thousands of Amazon Lockers in locations such as convenience stores, airports, train stations, and universities. They enable customers who are unable to wait at home for orders to collect them from a location of their choice. Amazon customers receive a unique barcode, which they enter or scan to retrieve their product at the locker. They cross simple boundaries of online and instore purchasing, drive footfall and open the opportunity for follow-on sales, especially in centres whom may not have multi-national anchors or huge brand presence.

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Celebrity/Influencer Pop-Ups: There isn’t a celebrity on the planet who doesn’t have some kind of brand association. The younger the influencer, usually the hotter the product. If your centre is attempting to attract younger fashion brands, using an empty unit as a free space for the celebrity to host a free pop up store as a one off event will not only help to drive footfall for signings and sales for their body con dresses, baseball hats or hair extensions, but it will also help shift your social game up a gear.

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CSR activities: There has been a shift-change in indies wanting mall stands for their start-ups and for those bigger brands who want direct contact for their sales team with the shopper; so space on the mall floor will invariably be getting tighter. The empty units are the perfect opportunity to be able to host craft, sports and family activities – while spotlighting your CSR activity, it also ticks boxes in health and safety and keeps loud noise and disruption away from your every day shopper.

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Retailer Liaison and Training: Some centre’s don’t have the luxury of a RLM and for us, it’s important as part of our work to be fully engaged with the retailers – constantly finding out their needs and wants, what’s working (and what isn’t) but also to offer support training and advice. Why not use your PR team to host monthly seminars on ‘Social Media’, ‘Improving Customer Service’, ‘Self Promotion’ and ‘Ways to Engage’? We are experts in this and have used it effectively to help many clients in the past. Let us help you to rethink the way you make the best use of your empty shops – we’re popping with ideas.

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