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A killer trend that gained attention last year will continue its growth momentum as the holidays approach. A host of consumer-facing companies are planning interesting -- and occasionally bizarre -- pop-up shops for the holidays.
Imagine, for example, an entire pop-up shop dedicated solely to Kellogg's (NYSE: K ) famed toaster pastry, called Pop-Tarts World. This vitamin-fortified outlet recently sprung up in New York City's Times Square to cater to shoppers' toaster-pastry-related needs.
Last year, stores like Target (NYSE: TGT ) set up pop-up shops -- small, temporary retail experiments. These insta-storefronts are well-suited for the holiday season, when companies seek quick, easy ways to peddle their goods to gift-conscious consumers.
According to USA TODAY, this holiday season's entrants into the pop-up frenzy include Harry & David, which will open "orchards;" Disney (NYSE: DIS ) , which will open Tron-centric stores to capitalize off the release of the sequel to its 1980s cult classic; and Claire's, which has opened a few pop-ups related to the popular TV show Glee, which airs on News Corp.'s (NYSE: NWS ) Fox.
The fleeting nature of pop-up shops helps to grab shoppers' attention. A small store that wasn't here yesterday, and it won't be here tomorrow, generates a sense of urgency and excitement. It's also smart to capitalize off of current crazes that probably won't be sustainable over the long term, like the Tron- and Glee-inspired pop-ups aim to do.
Small and nimble stores may be smarter moves in particular markets, such as congested cities. Retail behemoth Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) has discussed plans to open smaller stores, which is not exactly in keeping with its usual massive, plodding scale.
Most fascinating of all, many pop-up shops tend to operate profitably for the short amount of time they're open. That's sure to make consumer-facing companies salivate, and worry companies not fast or flexible enough to capitalize on pop-ups of their own.
In these austere times, companies that cater directly to consumers have their work cut out for them. Staid, slow-moving retailers will likely have a hard time generating excitement from reluctant consumers. If these retailers can't somehow pop on the scene with an attention-grabbing bang, the pivotal -- and hyper-competitive -- holiday shopping season might turn out less than cheerful.