At first glance, it may seem like the people are just there to buy an overpriced version of a grocery store brand.
But the recent hours-long line at a Nutella pop-up shop in Hong Kong could be a broader indication of the city’s shifting retail landscape, according to a new Bloomberg report.
Retail sales in Hong Kong, where some have deadpanned that shopping is the city’s favorite sport, have fallen for 16 consecutive months. Sales dropped by 10.5% in the first half of 2016, compared with the same period last year, according to the government. Officials reportedly attribute much of the decline to plummeting incoming tourism from mainland China.
In light of recent struggles, consumer brands like Nutella, Nike, cosmetics brand Kiehl’s, and flip-flop maker Havaianas have been answering the call with a more casual approach: pop-up shops. Some of these temporary stores are off-shoots of big multinationals hoping to build traffic outside of their permanent outlets, while others are operated by brands that couldn’t otherwise afford to rent space in high-priced malls.
“Pop-up stores offer freshness,” Kitty Choy, director of retail business for Hysan Development, told Bloomberg. “The element of surprise keeps shoppers anticipating to discover: What is going to come next?”
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Displays have been varied. Nike (NKE) created a mini basketball court to show off its sneakers, while Lululemon (LULU) took to leading yoga classes on Sundays.
At this month’s Nutella pop-up—featured in the swanky and centrally-located Pacific Place mall—customers queued to get their names added to jar labels. Despite hawking the cocoa-hazelnut spread at a premium—$10 for 12 ounces—the exhibit managed to sell more than 17,000 units in just a few weeks, Bloomberg reported.
“It’s worth coming,” said one customer, who had waited two hours.