More and more businesses are opening temporary holiday pop-up shops.

During the holiday season, pop-ups have the potential to expand a retailer’s reach and their business —  especially with many cautious consumers still avoiding big box stores in favor of locations with a  smaller chance of spreading the virus.

Retailers are eager to capitalize on the 2021 holiday retail sales projections, which according to emarketer.com will rise 2.7% over last year to $1.093 trillion.

Whether you’re an experienced retailer looking to generate more holiday sales this year or you’re brand new to the pop-up experience, we’ve got some helpful advice below on how to make your endeavor a success.

1. Create an Enticing Winter Theme

One of the most important steps to creating a successful holiday pop-up shop is selecting a winter- or holiday-themed concept. This will demonstrate the seasonal relevance of your pop-up and help you stand out from competitors  — with the ultimate goal of driving more foot traffic.

Ideally, you should find a hook that’s relevant to your brand. For example, if your business specializes in selling baked goods, your theme could be “Mrs. Claus’s Kitchen.” 

A couple enjoying coffee they purchased at a pop-up restaurant

Another approach is to focus on a specific holiday theme, like “Winter Wonderland,” where everything you sell is silver, white, or blue. Similarly, “The Nutcracker” is a visual and versatile concept when it comes to decorating.

Looking for inspiration? Miracle — a pop-up bar concept that started in New York in 2014 and has since expanded to dozens of restaurants around the world — offers holiday-themed drinks with a side of kitschy decor and “the nostalgic energy of the best office party you’ve ever been to.”

2. Integrate a Social-Media-Friendly Photo Booth

If you’re feeling particularly inspired, consider adding a photo booth visible to passersby. This set-up would allow shoppers to take holiday-themed pictures they could share on their social media platforms.

(Source: Image via Brit.co)

If you can, incorporate your logo in the photo booth backdrop, and welcome people to share their photos with a hashtag unique to your brand.

Need inspiration for setting up a photo booth? Check out this article by Brit.co on holiday photo booth thems to consider.

3. Offer Seasonally Appropriate Merchandise

To help drive traffic and sales, it’s imperative to offer items that will appeal to holiday shoppers. It pays to invest in holiday-themed merchandise— even if you offer only a handful of options.

wrapped holiday gifts

Additionally, to spark ideas for shoppers, it’s helpful to pick out items from your existing merchandise and arrange them in displays with signs that position them as holiday gifts, for example, “Gifts for Mom” or “Stocking Stuffers.”

4. Partner With Other Brands

Oftentimes it can pay for pop-ups to team up with each other, and there’s nothing like being a part of a community of businesses— especially during the holidays. 

One way to partner up is as easy as “popping up” with other retailers in the same place to drive more interest from passersby.

Positioning your pop-up next to complementary retailers can also boost sales, especially if you establish a referral relationship with your neighbors. Consider offering exclusive promotions for partner businesses in your respective locations 一 or even offer each other’s merchandise for sale.

5. Select the Right Location

Location is one of the most important choices when it comes to setting up a holiday pop-up. Search for a spot that’s densely populated, receives a large amount of foot traffic, and attracts the target audience of your brand.

Vacant storefronts in busy shopping districts or indoor shopping malls are good options in addition to event spaces and empty commercial lofts.

You may also want to consider renting space within another retailer’s store. Many big-box chains offer retail space at the front of their stores.

PODS containers can be used as pop-up shop structures for holiday markets.

If you have a great location in mind but can’t find an available storefront, consider using PODS containers as the store itself.

Looking for a creative, customizable, and portable pop-up store? Get a quote online for container rentals today from our PODS Business Solutions Team.

6. Keep Inventory Close at Hand

Pop-up stores tend to drive spontaneous sales by attracting consumers who are just passing by, so it’s vital that you have all the products you need at the ready.

When operating a pop-store, there’s usually very little room for storage, forcing pop-up retailers to keep their inventory in an off-site warehouse and make trips back and forth when they need to restock.

A simple way to increase the efficiency of your pop-up is by keeping a portable storage container nearby.

Shipping Container Storage Ideas: 10 Tips On How To Pack a Shipping Container For On-Site Storage
Looking to maximize your pop-up storage space? Check out our blog on 10 Tips On How To Pack a Container For On-Site Storage.

7. Offer Flexible Payment Options

When you’re taking so many smart steps to attract shoppers and offer them appealing merchandise, it would be a shame to miss out on potential sales by not offering convenient payment methods.

A woman holding a smartphone and shopping bags at an outdoor retail area

Portable payment options are secure and convenient for customers as well as easy for retailers to set up and use. Better yet, there are several options out there for payment.

Below are a few examples pop-up stores can utilize:

  • Standard chip and signature payments through a card reader
  • Online payments via a tablet device that offer a range of trusted online payment services such as PayPal, WorldPay and SagePay
  • Contactless card payments, which have become increasingly popular especially during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Payment devices that accept NFC smartphone payments (for example, Apple Pay and Android Pay) — great for impulse buys at any pop-up shop 
Do you run your pop-up outside of the holiday season? Check out our blog post, the Best Practices for Running a Successful Pop-up Booth at a Market, for more great tips.

8. Promote Holiday Pop-Up Shops Online

Social media marketing can generate excitement and a sense of urgency about visiting your short-term shop, both through paid advertising and online word of mouth.

Platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are particularly useful, as they allow you to tag your geographic location so consumers can find your store. 

Additionally, consider offering a discount to social media users to draw more customers. For added exposure, include a call to action in your online marketing that encourages users to share your messages, and invest in paid promotion to boost your posts since you’ll need visibility quickly.


Running a holiday pop-up is no small undertaking. But by planning and getting organized as far in advance as possible, you can ensure it’s worth the investment.

For more insight into how retailers can use PODS containers, take a look at the retail solutions we offer.

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RELATED ARTICLE: Retail’s 9 Top Inventory Pain Points and How to Solve Them

Originally published Oct 9, 2018 10:00 AM, updated Sep 7 2021

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