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Pop up responses to COVID-19

The Coronavirus pandemic hit retail… and pop up shopping… hard in March 2020 – and hasn’t let up yet ! This “pop up responses to COVID-19” article first appeared on the pages of popUPshops Australia (and social media) at the end of April, describing some initial (non-retail) pop up initiatives.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly had a huge impact on pop up shopping… but there’s been plenty of other pop up responses !

Whilst all the usual retail pop ups have disappeared (social distancing = no pop up shops), many other temporary installations and events have sprung up in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Some of those have been strategic and necessary… others might just be seen as opportunistic.

In early days of the viral outbreak, quick-thinking entrepreneurs launched pop up stores selling protective equipment – personal face masks, gloves and hand sanitisers which had sold out from the usual suppliers. Those pop ups were soon joined by outlets offering everyday items in (very) short supply in supermarkets – toilet paper, pasta, long-life shelf and household cleaning items. I suppose it was pretty good business for those traders, as media reports (and rows of empty shelves…) created a psychological shopping panic…

Not all those short-supply stores have sought to profit from the situation though, some are quite altruistic. Across the globe pop-up pantries have appeared to share basic necessities – “if you need one, take one… (or) if you have extra, leave one”.

Global governments have launched their own pop up responses, with a variety of temporary installations and events. Members of the public are being encouraged to test for the virus in pop up facilities alongside hospitals, in public spaces and town halls – or from the comfort (safety) of their own car via drive-through testing stations. This morning kiis1011.com.au says “major shopping centres around Melbourne have added testing clinics to their list of services… part of the Victorian government’s efforts to test as many people as possible over the next two weeks for the coronavirus…”

China was first to build several pop up hospitals, at surprisingly-swift turn arounds. The USA, UK and other countries have also utilised their empty exhibition and convention centres, building huge health facilities to cope with the (anticipated) masses of COVID-19 patients. But as the virus has claimed scores of lives, another (horrific) requirement has been the need for pop up morgues – refrigerated trailers and cool rooms requisitioned to store bodies as funeral industries struggle with so many ‘customers’.

As a sign that things may be improving in Australia… Myer stores will soon ‘re-open’ with pop up click and collect booths. Earlier this week Inside Retail reported that “Myer is relaunching click-and-collect at 22 stores this Sunday in a bid to avoid delays in the delivery of online orders for Mother’s Day… The retailer will operate pop-up booths at store entrances with enhanced hygiene and distancing measures in place to ensure customers can collect their items in the safest possible way. The booths will operate from 10am to 5pm, seven days a week.”

All of those pop up responses are temporary, and (probably) necessary… but I expect they’ll soon pack up, to make way for a return to the style of pop up we’re used to !

On a lighter note… in researching this article I came across an article suggesting that people shouldn’t pop bubble wrap that has come from China – it may contain the coronavirus ! The fact-check page of snopes.com (“a routine review of content labelled satire”) quotes “the ambient air in those concealed bubbles could absolutely house them virus for up to a year…” I think (hope…) that was posted as humour…

 

text & images : popUPshops Australia / pop up responses to COVID-19