Should you decorate your store for the holidays?

Discussion
Nov 10, 2015

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from The Retail Doctor blog.

Decorating a store at various seasonal times and holidays goes to the heart of what makes great retailing; it piques a shopper’s curiosity to discover what is new.

When new yet familiar elements are introduced to the shopping experience, the energy in the store changes.

We aren’t talking big budget here. While Saks and Tiffany’s can afford one-of-a-kind window displays and custom elements customers can activate with their phones, decorating isn’t about technology; it’s about creating a different shopping environment.

Here are the four main elements:

Lights. Adding strings of lights or color adds energy and magic. One of the first things I did when I took over a store was to ring the front windows with miniature white lights. It caught interest, it set us apart from stores on either side, and it brightened up the windows. The more lights throughout your shop, the better.

Pufferbellies window

Pufferbellies, Staunton, VA (Photo: Robbie Lawson)

Colors of the season. Whether it’s spring pastels or holiday reds and greens, seasonal colors are temporary. Yes decorating your store does take a bit more work as you can’t keep fall leaves up through February, but they do align your store with seasonal celebrations.

Props that are appropriate help tell a story. It is easy to think of props for a national celebration, i.e., a flag around the Fourth of July. While a tree or other large prop might be too much for Christmas, a prop can be as simple as putting Santa hats on mannequins. At the start of baseball season, gloves, bats and balls could be added to those same mannequins.

Signage that speaks to the season. Many merchants either avoid or forget well-conceived signs, but you need them. During the holidays, over a mountain bike with helmet, GoPro and night gear, place a sign that says, "Dad, Be A Hero To Your Daughter." Around the wedding season, a sign saying, "Forget The Tea Towels, Give ‘Em An Experience" could sit next to a complete baking system and five at-home chef lessons. Around Mother’s Day, a "Make Up For That Broken Window When You Were 8" sign can be posted next to any premium product.

What should you go all out to avoid?

  • Cheap paper or any other 99¢ table ornaments;
  • A picture of an appropriate holiday decoration instead of the decoration itself;
  • Old decorations that are torn, worn, or just plain ugly.

Make your decorated store fresh, make it fun and use more lights than you think you should.

Are you a fan of decorating for the holidays? What advice do you have for decorating stores around the holiday or other seasonal times?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Personally, this junk drives me crazy — holiday or no holiday. Apparently people buy it because every year around Halloween, the electro-mechanical sound returns."

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12 Comments on "Should you decorate your store for the holidays?"


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Tony Orlando
Guest
6 years 6 months ago

We do it for all the holidays and don’t spend a ton doing it, but customers like what we do. We reuse as much as we can for the next year and usually add something to the stuff we put up. Keep it simple and it makes the store look more festive.

Adrian Weidmann
Guest
6 years 6 months ago

Every time this topic comes up, all I can hear is the whir of the fans for those blow-up Santa Clauses and trees at the big box DIY retailers. I worked on an in-store media project and worked through the nights installing and commissioning digital media customer touchpoints with that sound droning on — relentlessly. This is not a good thing!

Personally, this junk drives me crazy — holiday or no holiday. Apparently people buy it because every year around Halloween, the electro-mechanical sound returns.

The lights on Michigan Avenue and the tastefully done window dressing is in another category and those put you into a different frame of mind. It would be better if they waited at least until Thanksgiving for their unveiling.

Max Goldberg
Guest
6 years 6 months ago

Retail is about an experience, and holidays are great times to get into the spirit and create an experience for customers. The article offers good advice on decorating stores: keep it fresh, get rid of old decorations, even use the holiday to create themed sales signage. One thing I would add is help employees get into the spirit as well. After all, they can make or break the entire effort.

Kevin Graff
Guest
6 years 6 months ago

Not sure why you wouldn’t decorate your store (with tact and professionalism in mind) and demonstrate to your customers that you recognize there’s a reason why you’re lucky enough to have your store be so busy.

Bob’s tips make sense.

And don’t forget about your staff who will be working long and hard hours over the holidays. A few decorations and the right music will make their experience a much better one too.

Naomi K. Shapiro
Guest
Naomi K. Shapiro
6 years 6 months ago

Decorating for the holidays or seasons or special events brings a freshness and excitement and special atmosphere, and renews the image of the store so it feels special when you enter, and I’m sure encourages feeling good and spending more time in the atmosphere, which translates, of course, to more spending.

W. Frank Dell II, CMC
Guest
6 years 6 months ago

Seasonal decorations are good and even expected. The issue is degree. Start with customer base and move to product line. Auto parts would have smaller decorations than a department store. Supermarkets should focus on the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s meals. I think the customer enjoys seeing some decorations, but they should be put up close to the holiday. Christmas decorations in August turn customers off. Christmas is in December not November.

Dave Wendland
Guest
6 years 6 months ago

Yes. It’s all about the “experience” and creating retail theater. I agree with Adrian that tastefully done window displays and well thought-out lighting can be dramatic. In most retail settings there is no need for inflatables and over-the-top hoopla.

Shep Hyken
Guest
6 years 6 months ago

I agree with everything in this article, and there are more benefits to consider from holiday decorations. Not only does it change the “vibe” of the store (in a positive way), it also can boost employee morale. Employees can find enjoyment from doing something that is special around the holidays. Typically people are happier during the holidays, so take advantage of the consumer mood, which may also be the employee mood.

Brian Kelly
Guest
6 years 6 months ago

Yes. Align on a relevant, simple and easy-to-communicate theme. Invest in windows that can be or will be seen. Focus on the threshold above the head and use elements to bring her into the store. At point of sale, use elements that will not get in the way by a shopping rush. Reminders of the season that don’t intrude on the function of the store.

To drive holiday, the store needs to be seen as a gift outlet at the other key gift-giving events on the calendar. Before decorations, I’d invest in gift boxes, tissue and bags that will fit the items purchased.

Or as Mrs. Claus has said, “retail ain’t for sissies!”

Lee Kent
Guest
6 years 6 months ago

There is just something about holiday decorations that get us in the right mood. Yes, there is all the hustle and bustle of getting ready for the holidays but stepping into a well decorated store is somehow calming, IMHO.

We are reminded of the magic and the excited looks from those who we will be sharing with.

For my 2 cents…go all out!

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Guest
Patricia Vekich Waldron
6 years 6 months ago

Decoration is part of the overall experience. I’m all for it, EXCEPT when it is put up in September/October!

Bill Hanifin
Guest
6 years 6 months ago

The “world” is increasingly asking business people of all types to apologize for maintaining traditions. This tradition of decorating for the holidays should be maintained.

Take away all the complex social issues and you have this very basic benefit — retailing is challenging and it is tough to keep consumer attention throughout the year. Something has to change to grab that attention and I hope the change is not always another 20/30/40% off discount sale.

Decorating the store signifies seasonal change, sparks interest and gives a reason for people to visit the store. Retailers that want return visit and footfall are well advised to decorate stores for the holidays, not just Christmas, but all around the year.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Personally, this junk drives me crazy — holiday or no holiday. Apparently people buy it because every year around Halloween, the electro-mechanical sound returns."

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