Written by Amy Steadman • Published 25th October 2013

With John Lewis and Selfridges unveiling their Christmas window displays this week, we think about how to maximise on these huge retail advertisements.

Image Courtesy of Miguel MG, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of Miguel MG, flickr.com

Window displays give shoppers a reason to visit the stores. This is never more true than at Christmas time. Windows are a huge, physical and tangible advert; an enticement not only to the passer-by, but to the wider public, giving them a reason to visit the store. It is important that retailers set the tone with their window displays, and at Christmas, they are designed to warm customers’ hearts and put people in the festive spirit. For retailers, it is hoped that this will then translate into Christmas purchases and, more importantly, impulse buys. Often a huge investment for retailers, window displays are an important asset for PRs prior to the festive season.

Window Displays – A Brief History

Retailer window displays were first introduced when large plate glass became readily available during the industrial revolution, but became popular in the late 1800s when London’s West End became popular on Christmas Eve with people visiting to view displays of ham and puddings in large shops. This then progressed in the twentieth century. The 1930s saw Salvador Dali designing window fronts for Manhattan’s hottest new shops, and in the 1960s saw Andy Warhol design the windows for Tiffany’s on 5th Avenue.

This Week


Image Courtesy of James Petts, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of James Petts, flickr.com

This week John Lewis, Oxford Street has unveiled its Christmas window display (a little ahead of the curve, with most choosing to get Halloween over and done with). The window has a ‘winter woodland’ theme with little squirrels, owls, weasels and foxes made from household products from the department store. Usually overshadowed by its rivals (namely Selfridges, Harrods and Harvey Nicholls) John Lewis has abandoned its conservative style and adopted some festive flare.

Selfridges too have this week unveiled their Christmas window, an edible city of London; a fantasy city including gingerbread Euston Arch and Old London Bridge.

PR Strategy

John Lewis has been particularly strategic in its PR campaign for the Christmas window display, inviting journalists to help the design team in creating some of its woodland creatures. Asking journalists within the national media to join in creating owls and weasels from coffee cups and knives and forks is a great experiential offering, encouraging journalists to then include news features once the windows have launched. The window display also gives PRs a huge asset for picture-driven news stories within the national media, where they can use the creativity and efforts of the design team as leverage with the press.