Prepare NOW for Your Holiday Displays


'The Holiday Season' is not what it used to be, folks!
It begins immediately following Labor Day (if not before) 

and includes the fall holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving) 
along with those we traditionally think of as 'Holiday' (Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan).....
Is your head spinning yet? 
Are there boxes of Christmas merchandise stacked and waiting for floor space?
Most of you are saying yes right about now.


Relax - you've done the easy part.

And now, your rest is over...
Because the hard part is that you need to have a plan ready
for how, where, when, and why those boxes of product will make it to the sales floor. And you need that plan NOW, my friends.
Before you pull an all-nighter to set it up. Before you leave a list of 'to do's' with the staff.
Before you have the invites for your big fall decor unveiling event printed. (You ARE having a big unveiling event, aren't you?) Before your ads hit the media.
Since most retailers count on the holiday season for a large percentage of their annual income, it makes sense to plan for it. 
But far too many businesses just roll the stuff out on carts and start stuffing it into display. Don't sabotage yourselves! 
With a bit of planning, you can reap all of the benefits of a successful Holiday season.
First, determine where the main focal locations are in your store.
Front and center, windows and immediate adjacencies, 

and both behind and beside the cash wrap (register counter)
are always a good place to start, generally speaking. 

Stand in your store entrance and see where your eye naturally lands as you enter, 
just as your customers do. 
Then look behind your front and center display area - a bit farther back into your store. There's one great spot to focus attention. And then back a bit farther, there is another
 If you focus on these areas, you will create a corridor of display areas 
that will focus attention on your holiday merchandise  
and act as a device to draw your customers into the depths of your store.
I mention this because in my line of work, 
I see far too many retailers that pack the entire front of their stores with Holiday merchandise.... and it sells, yes. 
But they miss the opportunity to get customers into the other areas of their stores - 
those areas that hold the basic, day-to-day product lines, 
the bread & butter lines, that people use all year long. 
The ones you want them to come back to your store for after the Holidays are over. 
Build in a reason for them to remember you and return...
Next, look at what you've purchased for the season and determine what works together to create themes or styles. 
Will you have a white wintery look, a warm woodsy look, and a bright colorful look? 
Will you have country, shabby chic, French flea market, and modern vintage styles? 

Once you've determined that, 
look around your store and see what you already have that fits in those categories. 
Adding everyday merchandise to your new Holiday offerings expands the impact, 
plus it helps you make room on your sales floor to FIT all that new stuff! 
You don't have to pack up the old stuff, just rearrange it in new groupings & settings.
Now, you need to take those Holiday products and create fabulous displays with them. 
For example, take that winter white theme I mentioned: 
Add big branches sprayed with snow, and bring in a selection of old sleds to use as risers for the white ceramic snowman figures, dishes, and ornaments.
Take a theme and run with it - add large-scale props like these to make it really engaging. 
Then, add some NON-Holiday merchandise to those displays. 
To the example above, add some plain white dishes, cups, red napkins, 
a selection of hot chocolate mixes, little bags of marshmallows, (display some in big glass vases!), and of course mittens and scarves. 
You've just taken 'everyday' merchandise and elevated it to extraordinary 
by association with the Holiday theme - 
AND you have increased the likelihood of raising the per transaction total of a purchase. (How could your customer possibly buy a ceramic mug with a snowman on it as a gift without also buying the hot chocolate mix and some marshmallows?!)
A simple way to keep your displays looking fresh and new throughout the season? Create a 'set' that will help you feature many types of merchandise
To show off themed papers, stationery, partyware, and ornaments, 
creating a 'dining room' with a long harvest table, a few chairs, and a sideboard - 
in your window, or in the center of your store.

These 'fixtures' will hold a ton of product and present it successfully every season:
*In early fall, use harvest baskets to present the items 
and an old ladder hung horizontally overhead to hang more baskets from.
*For Halloween, switch it out to black and white and orange, 

and hang a few black chandeliers or tissue paper lanterns overhead. 
*For Thanksgiving, group items on large platters and in soup tureens - 
yes, even cards and gift bags and napkins! 
This creative presentation will make your customers smile and notice those everyday items in a new way.
*For Christmas, bring in the everyday dishes and mixing bowls and cookie cutters and aprons - make it look like an old fashioned cookie baking party!

Then add in the holiday papers and cards that coordinate with that look
 to take it over the top. 
Add in some vanilla, birthday cake, and cupcake scented candles for a real sensory effect!
These are really simple, easy ways to be effective with your visual merchandising. Planning each display area's 'set' and use throughout the season 
will help you maximize your time, your effort, and your profits. 

And your customers will be clamoring to see just what you come up with next...

2 comments:

  1. perfect timing! four hours of lists and drawings last night and today I'm plotting out my NYCG show attack which begins Sunday for me. I'm feeling like your post is a pep rally....LET THE GAMES BEGIN!!!!
    will you be attending the show? Heidi

    ReplyDelete
  2. Heidi, no, I will not be attending the NYCG this season. Actually, I am not attending ANY gift shows this season! My schedule is filled with design work for clients and trips to regional flea market shows for research into a future project... we'll see what winter '10 brings!

    ReplyDelete

my take on retail visual design:

"The thing is, retail design is driven by psychology. It is by manipulating space, visuals, lighting, sound, smell, and mood that we influence customers to enter, stay, browse, buy, and return. It is an endless exercise in change, endurance, growth, education, and imagination that enables retailers to stay on top of their game and at the forefront of their customer's minds. Yes, what you sell IS important - but even the very best merchandise won't sell at full price if it's presented in torn boxes on dirty shelves in a store that is too crowded to turn around in. Visual impact is a huge part of business, and utilizing the principles that have been proven to work can help you build a better business." ~ DWK