The Pop-Up Shop Is Just a Big Science Experiment

All those pop-up stores opening up in unexpected locations around town aren't designed to amuse you. They're part of a devious plot to trigger certain chemicals in your brain so that you'll open your wallet and mindlessly hand over every penny you have in your wallet to the person standing behind the register. Really.

According to retail experts, the biggest obstacle to getting the public to begin shopping again isn't that people don't have any money. It's the feeling of guilt that is now consuming us:

Guilt has always been part of the shopping experience. But retail executives say it has become such an overriding emotion among shoppers since the economic crisis set in last year that it is delaying the recovery of the luxury-goods industry. Shoppers are suffering from "luxury shame," consulting group Bain & Co. said in a research report earlier this week.

The problem with these overpowering feelings of guilt: They get in the way of the dopamine that would normally flood your brain when you browse for clothes, try them on, and buy them. So retailers need to come up with a way to "short-circuit" your brain. And that's where the pop-up store comes in!

Guilt is running so high these days that many people are simply not going into stores in order to avoid the temptation to buy, retail executives say... In response, some brands are trying to catch consumers off-guard with new outlets for selling. Ittierre is considering having some brands open pop-up stores—boutiques that exist for a few weeks or months—in unexpected parts of European and U.S. cities that aren't traditional luxury shopping districts. The idea is that pop-ups may not activate the psychological barriers that prevent shoppers from entering traditional stores.

Of course, doing cocaine also does a pretty good job of boosting dopamine in the synapses of the brain. So if pop-up shop trend doesn't end up saving retail, maybe silver platters piled high with coke will do the trick?

Fighting Back Against Shoppers' Guilt [WSJ]
Photo: Racked