The most reliable predictions are those that pick up on trends and run them forward based in part on common sense and part on pragmaticism. There are several service trends I have been following. These fall under categories of retail services, transportation services and employment of service workers. So, here’s my prognostication for 2019:

The Proliferation of Pop-up Retail

Only someone mimicking an ostrich would have been unaware that bricks and mortar retail stores were disappearing–due to online shopping, which some analysts say makes up 95% of all purchases.

“The record-high rate of store closures that rocked the retail industry last year has continued into 2018, with more than 3,800 closures expected this year,” according to a report in Business Insider. Topping the exclamation list are Sears, Kmart, and Toys-r-us. Given those startling stats, I wouldn’t be surprised if most shoppers had asked themselves at one time: ‘Where will I still be able to touch, test and try-on?’

One possible answer is retail pop-up shops, also known as flash retailing. For those who remember when shopping malls converted empty storefronts into seasonal retail for, say, Halloween and Christmas, consider pop-up stores their first cousin once removed.

Pop-up stores, well, popped up circa the 1990s, first in large urban cities around the world, including London, Los Angeles, Tokyo, and New York City, according to Store Front Magazine. “Just about every consumer product has been sold via a pop-up shop at one point in time . . . “from art to fashion to tech gadgets and food,”

The rationale around launching a pop-up, at least these days, is to launch a new product, generate awareness, move inventory, introduce collaborations, and increase the ‘cool’ factor, according to the magazine. Yet due to such low operating costs, perhaps 80% less over the same period as ‘traditional’ stores, form probably follows function.

Therefore, I predict in 2019 increasing numbers of brands will give up their stores in favor of periodic pop-ups. These will occur in connection to campaigns of any kind. There’s even a blossoming service industry around pop-ups, including site selectors, consultants, and store designers.

I am also predicting pop-ups will continue to follow their origins, launching in urban retail, mixed-use zones. Consider that many malls have been bulldozed in favor urban downtown streetscapes, often known as mixed-use developments. These have retail at street level, plus professional service offices and residences above. The retail turnover in these urban-themed pedestrian malls is quite high. So, transforming those spaces into temporary stores just seems logical. Furthermore, I suspect the outdoor outlets, which are always desperate for new streams of foot traffic, will accommodate every and any kind of pop-up, at all times.