The Christmas period is the golden quarter that is so critical to the retail calendar, and despite the rise in importance of digital touchpoints, retailers are still investing in window displays to drive sales.
The windows of the larger department stores are lavish and often involve collaborations to achieve the look and feel desired. Whilst the main purpose of the displays is ultimately to sell products they are also there to tell a story, creating works of art that connect with consumers walking by regardless of whether or not they are a particular brand’s core customer.
This year, Liberty have partnered with the Royal Opera House to create windows inspired by The Nutcracker. Each mock-Tudor window of the iconic London department store has been dedicated to a moment from the classic Christmas ballet. 15 million pedestrians are expected to walk past the windows during the busiest part of the retail season and the displays will help to promote the store and the Royal Ballet’s winter programme.
Harvey Nichols have taken a different approach, choosing to create a theme reminiscent of an Italian opera. As a tie-in to the brand’s Britalia season which has been sponsored by the Italian Ministry of Economic Development and of ICE-Italian Trade Agency to showcase Italian products, the windows have been designed to evoke the drama of the opera. They have been styled with mask wearing mannequins, draped curtains, subtle Britalia branding and UV lighting techniques that transform the display from day to night. The key colours for the windows are red, white, blue and green, giving a nod to the Italian flag and the Union Jack.
Fortnum and Mason have chosen the theme of togetherness and celebration for their window displays, the consensus from the brand is that this message is paramount not only as part of the season but in light of the political developments 2016 has presented. Illustrated by artist Brett Ryder, each story in the “Together We’re Merrier” theme has been hand-crafted into 3D window displays. Eight stories are depicted across the store’s windows and pair characters usually divided, by time, mutual antipathy or geography being brought together by Christmas and include; The Bull and The China, The Polar Bear and The Penguin and The Wolf and The Sheep. The store atrium continues the theme with an embracing sun and moon.
Although windows may not seem to be a crucial part of the digital age as they are such a part of the earliest times of retailing, the impact of the festive window displays is amplified online as consumers take to social media to share images. Social sharing, selfies in front of the displays and location check-ins are now a big part of brand communication over the festive season and are a great way for a brand to get on top of the mind game, subconsciously placing them at the forefront of followers’ minds as fellow consumers share and see others sharing their experiences.
In the retail environment of today, the line between online and offline channels has been blurred more than ever before, cementing the importance for brands to provide an engaging online experience as well as continuing to inspire people in the real world to increase consumer confidence in the buying choices they are making. Impactful window displays are undeniably a key part of this and are remembered and referenced by consumers long after the tinsel has been packed away.