Pop-up shops bring new life to the high street in Wigan and beyond

Work carried out last year to smarten up an empty unit in the Galleries to be used as a pop-up shop
Work carried out last year to smarten up an empty unit in the Galleries to be used as a pop-up shop

With high street stores struggling to stay afloat, pop-up shops may have become the rising stars of the North West’s retail sector.

That’s according to research by the insolvency and restructuring trade body R3 which shows that their numbers in the region are now growing at a faster rate than that of e-commerce firms.

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Wigan hasn’t been left behind either with a number of stallholder businesses cropping up.

Both Makinson Arcade and The Galleries have been allowing folk with fledgling firms to have several weeks to trial in an otherwise vacant unit with easy rent terms.

Shoppers will also notice that both Christmas-themed and firework-based businesses open around the borough for just a few seasonal weeks.

But no-one can pretend that the town’s indoor and outdoor markets are enjoying as much trade as they once did.

In the 12 months to March there was a 28 per cent rise in the number of regional businesses focused on selling through stalls and markets, compared to a 19 per cent rise in the number of e-commerce firms and a seven per cent rise in “bricks and mortar” retailers.

There are now 760 dedicated stallholder businesses in the region: up from below 600 a year ago.

R3 figures also show that North West pop-up shops and market stalls have better survival chances than other traders, with 31.6 per cent considered at higher than average risk of insolvency in the next 12 months, compared to 40.6 for high street stores and 34.3 for e-commerce firms.

The figures reveal that pressure on almost all retailers has eased slightly in the past six months.

R3 regional chair Paul Barber said retailers including some luxury brands are following the example set by stall-based retailers. “Pop-up shops are a great way to trial new ideas or to take advantage of peak-time trade in an area without being committed to a permanent presence,” he said.

“A changing array of stalls creates added interest for shoppers and gives an area a more vibrant feel.

“Not surprisingly, town centres and even department stores have all been creating spaces for pop-ups, and while many are independents, even high-end fashion labels are now part of the mix.

“Markets have been with us since ancient times. In recent decades, many had been replaced by permanent stores but they are staging a comeback. It seems that markets and pop-up shops could be part of the future of the high street.”

Wigan Council bought The Galleries last year and there are hopes that its future plans will help to stimulate market trade.