‘Miniature pop-ups’: Micro retail space available for just £1 per day

Entrepreneurs / 14th June 2019

New analysis from Direct Line for Business1 reveals the latest retail trend, ‘miniature pop-ups’, where shops rent out tiny, temporary in-store sales space to retail entrepreneurs. Some of the space being rented out includes: single shelves, a clothes rail, drawers, display windows or counter top boxes, and some are from as little as £1 a day. One wine merchant is even renting out a single sales berth in their bottle rack! 

Creativity in miniature pop-up retailing is incredible, with a range of unusual spaces available to rent. These include a single clothing rail in a pizza restaurant in London’s Spitalfields, an iconic phone box in Brighton, and the basket on a vintage baker’s bicycle in Edinburgh. Artists and designers can take advantage of a captive audience in the likes of Clerkenwell’s Good & Proper Tea, where space on the walls at the back of the tea bar to showcase work is rented out.

Accessible market

Retail entrepreneurs looking for an opportunity to meet customers directly or engage a new audience if they have previously been online only can open a pop-up in a shared shop for just £7 a day. Research reveals landlords may charge commission for processing sales, which is typically between 10 and 12 per cent. 

Larger pop-up retail spaces remain accessible in terms of pricing, with the average unit available for £342 a day. The typical pop-up retail unit available in the UK is 1,186 ft2 (110 m2) and costs just 29p per ft2 (£3.10 per m2) per day to rent. 

Jasvinder Gakhal, Managing Director, Direct Line for Business, said: “Miniature pop-ups are so affordable that any budding retail entrepreneur can test out selling direct for the first time. For those with established online businesses, pop-up shops provide a fantastic opportunity to test out physical retailing, engaging customers in person, testing the feasibility of opening a permanent location. 

“With retail space available for such low daily rates and with the market offering such a huge range of spaces in terms of size and availability, pop-up shops are incredibly accessible for small businesses. It is important that even the smallest pop-up retailer invests in, at a minimum, public and product liability insurance, which will protect against claims of injury or property damage caused by products sold. Cost doesn’t have to be prohibitive.”

Regional insight

London is home to almost three quarters (72 per cent) of the UK’s available retail space and, with an average price tag 10 per cent higher than the rest of the UK, is also the most expensive location for pop-ups.

On average, a pop-up retail location in London costs 37p per square foot, which is 270 per cent higher than in Wales and the South West of England, where they are 10p per square foot. Not only are units in Wales the cheapest, they are also larger than anywhere else in the UK, at 369 square feet on average, compared to just 21 square feet in the North East. 

Table one: Pop-up rental space and cost by region


Average size of retail unit  available to rent

Average cost per square foot


93 ft2


North East

21 ft2


South East

136 ft2



105 ft2


Yorkshire and Humberside

141 ft2


West Midlands

124 ft2


East Midlands

155 ft2


East of England

115 ft2


North West

138 ft2



369 ft2


South West

239 ft2


Total Great Britain

110 ft2


Source: Direct Line for Business 2019

Even within a region there can be significant differences in both the rents charged for pop-up shops and the sizes of spaces available. In London’s trendy Shoreditch district, a high street location varies significantly, from just 26p per square foot, or £54 a day, to £1.25 per square foot, or over £1,000 a day.

Retailers looking for a boutique location in Manchester can secure an 80 square feet space for just £8 per day, 10p per square foot, while those looking for a statement venue can rent the giant 5,000 square foot Crown Square location in Spinningfields for £2,950 a day, 59p per square foot.  

Direct Line for Business is working alongside Enterprise Nation on a series of pop-up shops throughout 2019 looking to address the online vs. physical retail debate. The campaign was launched in Manchester on 3rd June with a pop-up shop on the high street, which will be open for 6-8 weeks and feature numerous retailers on a two-week rotation.

Emma Jones MBE, Founder of Enterprise Nation said:

“In opening our first Clicks and Mortar Pop-Up shop, with support from Direct Line for Business, we’ve seen at first hand the appetite from small businesses to meet customers and test physical retail. The benefit of taking temporary space is that you get time to test if a market is right for you, or if a product needs to change to sell well. It helps that this is possible to do within an accessible budget range. Pop-ups are a great route for small businesses and bring new energy to high streets and shopping centres too.”

Tips for those considering opening a pop-up retail business:

  • Volume of foot traffic: aim for an area that has a high level of footfall, you have a limited time to get eyeballs on your products, so you need passing customers
  • The right brand fit: the businesses situated near your pop-up will have an influence on how the public sees your brand. Are you aiming for street-smart cool or high-end cache?
  • Use science – trust in the ‘scarcity principle’: people are more likely to buy a product they think will soon be unavailable or is a limited edition, so make a virtue of your temporary pop-up to drive sales
  • Insurance: to protect your business explore, at a minimum, a policy that includes public liability cover in case you accidentally injure a member of the public or damage their property, and product liability cover, which covers you against any injury or sickness caused by the products you sell
  • The look: visual merchandising is important to engage customers – does your store or space feel inviting?
  • Build a buzz – use social media, PR, advertising and word of mouth to drive customers to your store.

For more information about Direct Line Pop-up and Stallholder Insurance visit:


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