Holiday Window Displays – Old School Marketing that is a Feast for the Eyes

– By Kristina Lee

‘Tis the season to be jolly and at this time of year, we are sure to see more lights, holiday décor, and over-the-top displays, all hoping to entice the serial shopper in us. While more and more people are choosing to shop online instead of lining up at the store (Yesterday’s cyber Monday expected to see shoppers spend $1.5 billion), still remaining are the traditions of decked out window displays at the department stores along Fifth Avenue in New York City.

While ample online shopping sites like and are splashing eye-catching call-to-actions through web advertising, the vivid windows displays at the biggest department stores in the US are still dazzling tourists and shoppers alike. Also known as visual merchandising, window displays can run high costs over designing a website landing page; but a well-designed, dramatic and compelling display can not only drive sales, but also entice the shopper off the street to enter the store—literally.

Silent Salesmanship

While most of the big box department stores that invest in large scale window displays also have accompanying websites, the windows are reserved for communicating a theme and overall brand identity. During the holidays, items for sale are woven into a storyline to entice the window shopper who is passing by, with a unique visual for the senses. Large signage with price tags, and highlighter yellow letters that scream “Sale,” or “Come in Today,” just don’t appeal to the savvy consumer anymore. The art of visual merchandising now includes weaving a story and theme into the objects placed behind the glass, to turn heads, and ultimately turns a passerby into a patron.

Bergdorf Goodman Holiday Window reenacts a scene from the Jazz Age of the 1920’s-30’s
Photo by Ricky Zehavi

Attracting People from All Over

Similar to how a website can have a global reach, window displays have also grown to be loved by many across the continent and beyond. Tourists to the big apple during the holidays are always drawn to the stores to witness for themselves, the intricate detailing and sumptuous 3D displays. A large impact of window displays is how the brand of each department store is enhanced. Whether you’re a window shopper or a shopper with a mission, these displays are sure to make a lasting impression.

While window displays may not be as easy to measure in terms of conversion, they’ve been attracting crowds for over 70 years, proving that this type of old school marketing seems to stand the test of time.

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