Will pop-ups rock Wet Seal’s holiday sales?

Discussion
Shuttered Wet Seal store, Madison Square Mall, Huntsville, AL - Photo: Wikipedia/Windyshadow32
Oct 25, 2016

Wet Seal, the teen retailer, plans to open 13 pop-up locations to support holiday selling.

The stores, measuring 3,000 to 5,000 square feet, will open at General Growth Properties’ shopping centers in nine states from coast to coast starting Nov. 3. Wet Seal has three purposes in mind for the pop-ups:

  • Reconnecting with former Wet Seal fans: Wet Seal closed 338 of its roughly 500 stores before filing for bankruptcy in January 2015. The pop-ups will reach many areas where the company had former locations. Added Wet Seal CEO, Melanie Cox, “Customers have reached out to request the return of Wet Seal stores to their local areas, and we are pleased that we are able to meet that need.”
  • Bringing some buzz to the teen channel: The bankruptcies of Aéropostale, American Apparel, Pacific Sunwear, Delia’s and Quiksilver underscore the challenges many teen stores have had drumming up excitement with teens. Teen retailers are struggling against competition from the fast-fashion chains such as Forever 21, Zara and H&M. Beyond lackluster fashion trends, another challenge is that teens are said to be less into buying “things” and more into tech gadgets and experiences, such as a trip to a weekend concert. Finally, with teens shopping online more vs. hanging out at the mall on weekends, foot traffic is waining.
  • Holiday spillover: It’s unusual for an established retailer to open stand-alone pop-up locations and most do it solely for marketing reasons. Target for example uses pop-ups to help promote new collaborations. Earlier this month, the chain opened three in downtown Manhattan to celebrate the launch of its first store in Tribecca. In Wet Seal’s case, the openings are partly in response to a lack of presence at this time of year. Said Ms. Cox, “We see an opportunity for additional brick and mortar locations during the peak holiday season.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you see as the biggest potential benefit from Wet Seal’s pop-ups? Should other retailers look to pop-ups to support greater demand during seasonal periods?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Pop-ups offer terrific experimentation and learning opportunities for retailers."
"The biggest benefit to Wet Seal is not having to pay long-term leases."
"However, they are missing an opportunity to be more creative with the location of their pop-up stores."

Join the Discussion!

6 Comments on "Will pop-ups rock Wet Seal’s holiday sales?"


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Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

Pop-ups offer terrific experimentation and learning opportunities for retailers. Re-introducing the Wet Seal brand through pop-ups is an effective and relatively low-cost way of gaining important insight into general consumer demand, product mix and operational effectiveness — critical precursors to opening new stores and helpful in honing operational efficacy. The trick here is to make sure that the learnings are not lost by having inadequate measures. Measuring pop-up store traffic and conversion rates would be two very important data points to capture.

Max Goldberg
Guest

The biggest benefit to Wet Seal is not having to pay long-term leases. Wet Seal gets the benefit of being in high-traffic locations during the critical holiday shopping season without having to commit to being there after the holidays. This is a good way to drive a burst of sales, but not a good way to build a brand.

Naomi K. Shapiro
Guest

The biggest potential benefit from ANY pop-up is that they’re doing it! It’s not just the greater demand during seasonal periods, it’s the uniqueness of the pop-up not being static; people of all generations say they are looking for these unique settings and experiences. All retailers would do well to consider this avenue for marketing.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

I’m with Max. The real benefit here is the ability to create temporary excitement without the bother of recurring lease payments. Pop-ups are a growing business, but if too many people start jumping on the bandwagon there is a danger they might begin to lose their appeal. And that leaves the problem of what to do the rest of the year.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
BrainTrust

One benefit of the pop-ups is demonstrating that Wet Seal is responding to consumer requests. However, they are missing an opportunity to be more creative with the location of their pop-up stores. If teenagers are not shopping in malls, where are they hanging out? Why not try a few pop-up stores in other locations that their consumers frequent.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

The obvious guess here is that these locations were on the margin (between being shut and staying open) and Wet Seal either (1) is considering (re)opening them and wants to gauge demand, or (2) thinks the stores can be profitable at holiday periods, but not all year long.

Do these ideas make sense (i.e. can one either extrapolate holiday sales into a full year or run a Xmas only clothing store)? I’m doubtful: America already has too many look-alike teen clothing stores, and Wet Seal’s bankruptcy filing was a hint that they’re one of the ones that isn’t needed.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Pop-ups offer terrific experimentation and learning opportunities for retailers."
"The biggest benefit to Wet Seal is not having to pay long-term leases."
"However, they are missing an opportunity to be more creative with the location of their pop-up stores."

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