The Countdown to Christmas

For retailers, there is one main event that cannot be ignored on the retail
calendar- Christmas. Although there are predictions this year that it will
not pull customers out of their retail haze, it is still one of the best
bets to get the cash registers ringing.

With the advent of online shopping and increased competition in the retail
market there is more and more talk about the importance of the 'experience'
and 'emotional engagement' of shopping. The brick and mortar store still has
something over the convenience of on-line purchases. At its best the store
experience can connect the customer with the brand as well as the product
and inspire life long loyalty (think Apple stores).

Martin Butler in 'The Art of Being Chosen' states "the harsh reality is:
emotional engagement is the only way to stand out from the crowd." This
works in a retailer's favour during Christmas as, more than anything, it is
about the experience and memories customers associate with it. This can
easily be linked to products and the in-store experience. Christmas is such
an emotive time that it is a great opportunity to connect with your
customer. Visual merchandising is the ultimate tool to communicate why your
offer is special and why customers should shop with you.

Although the large retailers already have their Christmas shops set up, for
most retailers it will be the end of October, beginning of November that
Christmas will start to feature prominently in their windows and stores. It
is important for retailers not to miss the boat and think that a sale would
be more effective than focusing on Christmas. The point of visual
merchandising, especially at Christmas, is to evoke a memory in a customer
of their Christmas or offer a product or service that is going to make their
life easier at this often-stressful time of year.

In the current climate, people are wary financially, with more people saving
and questioning the mass consumerism of Christmas. Therefore the best way to
connect with them is to have a point of difference, tell a story, offer a
genuine solution or service and this can be communicated through inspiring
visual merchandising. Creativity does not have to cost the earth and the use
of clever props and a simple concept that supports your product is just as
effective as the most complicated scheme.

Juliet Borshoff, of Design Merchants, will be running a 2-hour Visual
Merchandising Workshop in October that will cover Christmas windows and
Christmas visual merchandising for retail and office spaces. For more
details click on the link below: