Pop-up retail now worth £2.3 billion to UK economy, new EE and Cebr report reveals

  • Cebr and EE’s annual Britain’s Pop-Up Retail Economy report finds pop-up retail sector growing at 12.3 per cent with a turnover of £2.3 billion, employing over 26,000 people
  • Despite this growth, technology continues to hold the sector back, as over 40 per cent of small retailers are still unable to take card payments and 25 per cent say they have lost sales because they don’t have sufficient stock management systems in place
  • EE launches new Connected Retail bundles to help retailers overcome barriers to mobility and modernise existing stores. The new 4G point of sale bundle includes 4G tablets, contactless iZettle payment devices and more – all on flexible contracts that cost a fraction of traditional POS solutions
  • The first businesses to use the Connected Retail package from EE are the winners of pop-up space marketplace Appear Here’s Space for Ideas competition, whose shops launch this week

Pop-up retail is now worth £2.3 billion to the UK economy according to Britain’s Pop-Up Retail Economy, the second annual report into the pop-up sector from Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr). The report, commissioned by EE, the UK’s most advanced digital communications company, found that pop-ups now account for 0.76 per cent of total UK retail turnover, up from 0.6 per cent the year before, an increase of more than £200 million in sales.

The Cebr report found that the sector is growing much faster than predicted, with 12.3 per cent more revenue this year versus 8.4 per cent last year, caused by a rise in the number of customers and an increased average spend. 44 per cent of respondents have visited a pop-up in the past year, and they’re spending £8 per month more than they previously were at an annual total of £124 per person.

Britain is now host to more than an estimated 10,000 pop-ups, according to the report, and the sector employs more than 26,000 people. The lines between pop-ups and traditional retail are increasingly blurred, as well-established retailers and online-only brands are using pop-ups to test and expand into new locations and product lines. Eight per cent of retailers report having launched a pop-up sometime in the past year, while ten per cent plan to open one in the next five years.

However, barriers still remain. Obtaining a reliable internet connection remains one of the biggest challenges, and is crucial for point-of-sale (POS) devices, stock management tools and for real-time customer promotion via social channels like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Additionally, in spite of the fact that card payments are projected to overtake cash within the ten next years, over 40 per cent of small retailers and food and accommodation providers say they are unable to process card payments. Additionally the report highlights stock management is increasingly a key challenge, particularly as retailers try to manage sales and inventory across online, permanent and temporary shops. 25 per cent of retailers say they have lost money because they don’t have sufficient stock management systems in place.

To help retailers overcome these challenges and to support the rapid growth the pop-up sector is experiencing, EE is launching EE Connected Retail, a new range of 4G products to help retailers run a smarter shop. From pop-ups to established retailers, Connected Retail provides businesses with a superfast 4G tablet and a contactless iZettle payments device. Connected Retail can save retailers up to 80 per cent on traditional POS systems.

The first retailers in the country to use EE Connected Retail are the winners of retail space marketplace Appear Here’s Space for Ideas competition, who this week launch their two week residencies in shops across London. The winners include bespoke cargo bike builder Porterlight, avant-garde jewellery brand WonderLuk , ethical clothing brand Run&Fell, and The Mini Edit, a children’s online clothing brand. Each is receiving prime retail space in London for two weeks, Connected Retail from EE, advertising from the London Evening Standard and funds and design agency support to build their shops. 

Mike Tomlinson, Director of Small Business at EE, said: “The pop-up sector is rapidly evolving, with pop-up shops now contributing £2.3 billion to the economy every year. The sector’s growth is driven by retailers and brands of all sizes using pop-ups to create new experiences, products, and locations for their customers. With Connected Retail from EE, we’re providing 4G connected products designed specifically to help temporary and permanent retailers be even more flexible and productive – getting them online quickly, and helping them to engage with customers via social media, take payments, and manage inventory.”

Rob Harbron, Managing Economist for Cebr, said: “Pop-up retail is continuing to become an increasingly viable platform for both people with new business ideas and for established businesses looking to engage with customers in new and innovative ways. Successful retailers increasingly need to offer customers the ability to shop when and where they want. As such, the flexibility of pop-up stores makes the format increasingly attractive. However, without appropriate investment in technology, efficiently co-ordinating a range of platforms is becoming increasingly challenging for businesses.”

Ross Bailey, Founder and CEO of Appear Here said: “This report highlights how important the pop-up sector is becoming to the UK economy. With so many traditional retailers using pop-up shops and so many pop-up retailers moving onto long-term rents, we should no longer be looking to draw a line between traditional retail and pop-up retail – it is all just retail. We're seeing brands and retailers from all backgrounds incorporate pop-up retail into their retail strategy. Since launching in 2013, Appear Here has grown by 500% year on year and currently generates £14m in request value per month, a number which is increasing month on month. This is a testament to the growth of the industry.”

For more information about 4G Connected Retail and the Britain’s Pop-Up Retail Economy report, please visit

Notes to editors:

For more information, please contact the EE B2B press team at


Richard Bell, e:, t: 020 7544 3758, m: 07805 568395

Nick Osborne, e:, t: 020 3617 8459, m: 07714733741


All figures sourced from Britain’s Pop-Up Retail Economy 2015, published in August 2015 and available at:

  • Overall retail turnover of the pop-up retail economy is calculated by combining last year’s finding with 2015 consumer survey data from YouGov and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates on the number of over 18s within the UK. Combining the value for the average spend over the last 12 months in pop-up shops by over 18s and the number of over 18s within the UK, Cebr is able to put a pound figure on the amount of turnover generated in the pop-up retail sector.
  • Growth is calculated using estimated spend of consumers in the next 12 months coupled with ONS population estimates, providing a pound value for the expected turnover of the pop-up retail industry over the next year.
  • To estimate the number of employees and businesses within the pop-up sector, CEBR used Business Population Estimates from the Department for Business Innovation & Skills to provide as similar as possible turnover to employee and turnover to businesses ratios. Using the calculation of the overall turnover of the industry and combining it with the Business Population Estimates provides an expected figure for the number of employees and businesses within pop-up retailing.

Sample size in Business survey was 342 middle managers and above in retail/ restaurants services and hotel/ lodging industry in all business sizes. Consumer survey was 2010 GB adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between the 17th and 20th July 2015.  The survey was carried out online.

Britain’s Pop-Up Retail Economy was produced in partnership by EE and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), using insight from Appear Here, Benefit Cosmetics, PRESS, Hangfire Smokehouse, Edjer for Life and Pilau.

About Connected Retail

The new Connected Retail proposition is available from the EE site here:

About Space for Ideas

Space for Ideas was a London-wide competition from Appear Here to help the best of the next generation of brands, retailers and entrepreneurs find space for their ideas. Judges for the competition included Martin Morales, the former head of Disney Music who set up Peruvian restaurant Ceviche, television presenter Dawn O’Porter, who launched her own vintage clothing line using a pop-up shop in Covent Garden and Julie Deane, the founder of the Cambridge Satchel Company. Supported by the London Evening Standard and EE, three winners are receiving two weeks in a free and fully supported shop space in Central London, advertising spend in the London Evening Standard, design budget and EE’s new Connected Retail package for the duration of the shop. Each shop opens on August 11th.

The winners of the Space for Ideas competition include:

Porterlight: Bicycle company Porterlight builds and sells a new type of cargo bicycle designed for those who live in busy cities and require a mode of transportation they can use to transport goods, luggage, or furniture with  if they do not have access to a car or van. Founder, Lawrence Brand road-tested his bicycle concept by riding his prototype on a 5,000km solo cycle ride from Bucharest, Romania across Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, finishing his journey back in Kazakhstan on the Chinese border. His ‘Possibility Shop’ will open in Covent Garden. More information on Porterlight is available at the company’s website:

Run&Fell: Ethical clothing brand Run&Fell was founded five years ago by Manchester-based entrepreneur Naomi Jackson. Manufactured entirely-within the UK, until now, the company has been online-only and has focused exclusively on men’s t-shirts. But, the new pop-up will act as a launch for Run&Fell’s first ever women’s line. The brand will be seeking to act as an antidote to fast fashion, and will install a seamstress within its pop-up shop on the King’s Road in Chelsea to help people engage with the manufacturing process. More information is available here:

WonderLuk: Jewellery company WonderLuk uses professional, high-quality 3D printers to create uniquely personalisable items, across a range created by more than 20 designers. Co-founded by Roberta Lucca, a British-Brazilian entrepreneur who also runs a successful mobile games company, WonderLuk’s pop-up will open its doors at Boxpark in Shoreditch. Popular items will be curated by the company, but customers will be able to personalise jewellery in store using tablets and a digital customisation studio. More information on Wonderluk is available here:

The Mini Edit: Children’s fashion brand The Mini Edit was a wildcard winner of the Space for Ideas competition. The company’s site curates an edit of the best in contemporary children’s fashion, toys and gifts. As a wild card winner, The Mini Edit will receive free retail space in Knightsbridge and the free Connected Retail package from EE. More information is available here:

See for more information.

About EE

EE is the largest and most advanced digital communications company in Britain, delivering mobile and fixed communications services to consumers, businesses, government and the wholesale market. EE has approximately 14,000 employees and 548 retail stores, and serves more than 30 million customers across its mobile, fixed and wholesale businesses.

EE runs the UK's biggest and fastest mobile network, pioneering the UK's first superfast 4G mobile service in October 2012 and is the first European operator to surpass the 10million 4G customer landmark. EE's 4G coverage today reaches more than 90% of the UK population. EE’s 2G coverage reaches 99% of the population while 3G reaches 98%. EE's superfast fibre broadband service covers 74% of the UK population, and ADSL broadband service covers 98.7% of the population.

In the last few years, EE has received extensive independent recognition including being ranked the UK's best overall network by RootMetrics®; Best Network at the 2014 and 2015 Mobile News Awards; Fastest Network at the 2013 and 2014 uSwitch Awards; Best Network at the 2014 Mobile Choice Consumer Awards and the What Mobile Awards 2013 and 2014; Number One for Network Innovation at the 2013 Recombu Awards; Best Mobile Network at the 2014 Recombu Awards; Best Network for Business at the 2013 and 2014 Mobile Industry Awards; and Best Consumer Network at the 2014 Mobile Industry Awards.

Follow us on…

Facebook at:

Twitter at:

YouTube at:

LinkedIn at:

About Cebr:

The Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) is an independent consultancy with a reputation for sound business advice based on thorough and insightful research. Since 1992, Cebr has been at the forefront of business and public interest research, providing analysis, forecasts and strategic advice to major UK and multinational companies, financial institutions, government departments and agencies, trade bodies and the European Commission. Cebr is recognised as one of the country’s leading independent commentators on economics and business trends. Its forecasts are used by a diverse audience of business people, policy makers and journalists; even the Treasury publishes its predictions for the UK economy.

About Appear Here:

Appear Here is the leading online marketplace for short-term space. Used by thousands of brands, retailers, and entrepreneurs every month, Appear Here has helped companies such as Google, Net-a-porter, Jamie Oliver and Apple to start-ups including Eventbrite, PRESS London and SUITCASE Magazine, find space for their ideas. With over 1000 spaces listed online, Appear Here currently covers most major cities in the UK including Bath, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Manchester. Named as one of Wired’s ‘100 Hottest Start Ups’ and The Financial Times’ most ‘Disruptive Companies of 2014,’ Appear Here has become the go-to destination to make innovative and creative retail ideas happen. The company was founded in the summer of 2012 by Ross Bailey. Its backers include Balderton Capital, Forward Investment Partners, MMC Ventures and Meyer Bergman – the early investors in Hailo, Citymapper and Yoox.