It’s the most wonderful time of the year… CHRISTMAS!


Summer is well and truly behind us. The sunshine and warmth has been replaced with the cold crisp air, and being warm from wrapping up in chunky knits, bobble hats and scarves. Boots have replaced sandals and the nights are drawing in.


For some this time of year is their favourite; who doesn’t love the twinkly lights, the decorations, the festive markets, all the food and most of all the Christmas displays!







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je+1 It’s the most wonderful time of the year… CHRISTMAS!
je+1 It’s the most wonderful time of the year… CHRISTMAS!



Selfridges Oxford Street was the first store to unveil their Christmas display – back in October, following the reveal of their Christmas shop which opened in JULY!!!


There are 13 window displays with either a symbolic representation or one particular iconic element of a well-known fairy tale. They all are reimagined through a modern lens, combining a futuristic aesthetic and a softer magical narrative. It aims to highlight the fact that times may be changing in unpredictable ways, but Christmas remains the same.




Harry Gordon Selfridge brought the US-style celebrations to the UK Christmas retail market and introduced us to a new tradition. He promoted the radical notion of shopping for pleasure rather than necessity, which is something that is becoming more relevant and that we have previously touched upon with instore experiences.


Selfridges have carried on the window display feel inside the store with a giant mirrored Christmas tree, which hangs in the central atrium and comes alive through a lighting show projected on its surface.

je+1 It’s the most wonderful time of the year… CHRISTMAS!




This year shoppers are apparently spending less due to the political uncertainty we find ourselves in with a General Election and the prospect of Brexit still hanging over our heads. Shoppers have said they will prioritise food over toys; focusing on necessity rather than indulgence!


Whilst we as a customer may only be spending on necessity, for a retailer they still want to indulge us and get us into their store.  This needs to start from the outside! By using window displays as the start of the journey a visual merchandiser can draw customers into the shop and once inside close the sale, which is the end goal.


Festive decorations do not just play a role when it comes to windows, but inside of the shops as well. Customers want to shop in a beautiful setting, which will boost their mood and lead to sales! How retailers display, position and group their products will have an enormous effect on how successful they will be in terms of sales. Therefore visual merchandising is a crucial retail strategy that maximises the aesthetics of a product to encourage sales.  They need to find the right balance between creating a magical scene and to place the products in a way they do not get lost.


At this time of year bricks and mortar has an advantage over online shopping in that there is the ability to create the perfect Christmas scene and that special feeling you can only get from being in it! You don’t get that emotion from scrolling online.

je+1 It’s the most wonderful time of the year… CHRISTMAS!
je+1 It’s the most wonderful time of the year… CHRISTMAS!




You cannot talk about retail design and visual merchandising without mentioning technology. Retailers can use screens to showcase ‘Christmas’ landscapes or promote their current campaigns. Some retailers will take it further and create virtual reality experiences for the children; write letters and have them sent direct to Santa, or ride on his sleigh over the rooftops and take away that memory in film format.


Harvey Nichols have used animations of the Northern Lights have been projected onto its façade.

Following through into the store, its CANVAS space on the fifth floor has been transformed into The Secret Forest, where customers will be able to watch festive films and enjoy Scandinavian-style snacks and drinks.



je+1 It’s the most wonderful time of the year… CHRISTMAS!
je+1 It’s the most wonderful time of the year… CHRISTMAS!
je+1 It’s the most wonderful time of the year… CHRISTMAS!


As retail designers we are fully aware of the Christmas deadline. Months prior to December we will have proposed store layouts, worked up visuals and completed drawing packs; furniture, components, ceiling, lighting, electrical, flooring, decoration, signage and artwork plans.  We will then be on site for weekly progress meetings, and following handover we will be there again setting the store out and carrying out the visual merchandising. December is always a busy month for us – this year we have 4 stores opening on the 3 weekends prior to Christmas Day; all in preparation for Boxing Day – the biggest sale of the year!


To conclude, Christmas is a time full of magic, dreaming and fantasy and there are a lot of retail stores who put that into best practices when planning their window displays.

Christmas Facts at Selfridges by Fashion United

Over 85,000 Christmas baubles, with many reused from existing displays (hung across the stores’ balconies and ceilings)

Snow globes across all stores each contain over 40 kilograms of biodegradable confetti

13,000 paper decorations hung across the stores’ ceilings

A giant 1.5 tonne, 13 metre high mirrored Christmas tree hangs in the Oxford street store’s central atrium

Over 100 metres electric cabling was used to install the handrail atrium decoration framing the giant Christmas tree

5 kilometres of handrail garland installed around the store

Over 100 bespoke mirrored Christmas trees in London alone

Over 15,000 metres of LED lights decorate the dense spruce foliage and handrails inside and outside the London store

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