By Jenni Ashwood.
As we move towards Christmas (sorry, we know it’s October), the nights might be getting darker but the windows are lighting up. Mr. Selfridge (Harry Gordon) said: ‘The whole art of merchandising consists of appealing to the imagination. Once imagination is moved, the hand goes naturally in the pocket.’
Nowhere is this more obvious than at Christmas, nor more lucractive. “While Christmas windows are the pinnacle of self-expressive and creative display for stores, crucially they also drive foot traffic – and traffic drives sales” says Elizabeth Patton of the Financial Times, and The Telegraph claims that “Liberty’s iconic window displays are as much a part of Christmas in London as the Oxford Street lights.”
But really, it’s not just about Christmas. Barnaby’s reportedly change their windows weekly and no major store will disclose their Visual Merchandising budget for windows. And nor is it really even just about windows. As eCommerce gains even more prominence, a store’s environment and interior visual merchandising becomes even more important (although admittedly, harder to measure) in a way that online just can’t replicate.
Anthropologie’s living wall, bubble staircase and spacious and relaxing fitting rooms, as well as the windows, reflects their wacky and creative ethos as much as their dresses and mugs do. Cos, with its sofas, magazines and intriguing light fittings, invites quiet and introverted relaxation, complementing its minimalist and simple aesthetic. Everything about the Benefit store on Carnaby Street – from the abundance of colour, to the pop-art, to the make-up artists and sales staff – shouts playful, fun and self-expressive.
We’ve spoken before about brands’ creation of communities to entice customers and create loyalty. This is almost even simpler than that. Just as you’re often drawn to friends and people whose appearance reflects either yourself or the self you’d like to reflect, so you are with actual shops.
No-one does it better than Supreme. The fervour created by the queuing system and the feeling of elation as you enter the beautifully curated environs of its stores (admittedly coupled with the very small supply nature of their products) can’t be replicated online, creating a hype and desire that in turn creates cult-like status, long-term profit and stratospheric levels of investment. What brand wouldn’t want that?