why short-term strategies can help businesses thrive
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected many industries across the globe, including the global commercial real estate market.
Long periods of movement restrictions over the past two years have meant more businesses have moved their operations online, causing them to depend on their digital storefronts rather than their physical properties.
With the digital switchover, the closure of many physical retail stores and the downsizing of offices as millions of employees continue to work from home, empty storefronts and commercial spaces present a challenge for owners.
We still don’t know if people will prefer an e-commerce experience to a long-term physical shopping experience, as many business leaders have found a way to save on rent by allowing employees to work from home. residence.
That leaves us with a question to consider: Could permanent pop-up experiences be the answer to empty storefronts and office buildings?
Pop-up experiences have long been associated with special events and certain seasons of the year. Retailers often offer pop-up experiences to promote a product or service during the holiday season, or to drive traffic to a new destination.
One of the most popular pop-up events in the UAE is Miami Vibes, a food festival held in different locations during the colder months.
Likewise, event planners such as Waad Events offer pop-up fashion exhibitions to luxury online retailers in the UAE and the wider GCC region. Customers from different GCC countries flock to pop-ups to shop at their favorite social media-based fashion brands.
What if pop-up stores became a permanent shopping experience? What if this becomes the way for ecommerce businesses to bring their retail experiences to life and connect with customers?
To make this happen, homeowners might consider using the empty space for contextual purposes.
Instead of relying solely on long-term leases, owners could change their models to suit businesses and e-commerce experiences.
For example, a shopping center can be built entirely on a pop-up model. Stores can be rented for periods of three months, for example, and each season of the year could be assigned a theme.
Winter, for example, could be themed around food and drink restaurants, and the entire mall experience would be designed to introduce people to new F&B businesses.
Likewise, different areas of the mall could be used to provide customers with a variety of experiences. Empty rooftop parking lots could be rented out by a chain of cinemas to provide an outdoor movie experience during the colder months. Not only would this drive traffic to the mall, but it could also be a good money generator for empty space.
Empty floors of office complexes could be designed as coworking and thematic spaces accordingly. There could be a coworking space designed just for independent artists or filmmakers, providing them with all the facilities they need to work.
Shopping centers could also explore the possibility of redesigning department stores into coworking spaces to attract footfall to the mall and attract customers to other outlets that operate there.
Large companies that find themselves with additional space in the properties they own could turn their offices into co-working spaces for students, entrepreneurs or researchers as part of their corporate social responsibility commitments. .
Likewise, large empty spaces – whether in shopping malls or office buildings – can be rented out for events.
As the uncertainty of the pandemic persists, homeowners could take the opportunity to create exciting pop-up experiences that could cater to a wide range of customers throughout the year.
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning UAE writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @manar_alhinai
Update: January 9, 2022, 3:30 a.m.