The Harrods Christmas Shop

In true Harrodian style, the Christmas Shop is open for business. Resplendent with lit garlands, a sumptuous array of decorations and baubles which cater for every style of Christmas.   In one section they have created The Harrods Gift Shop, mixing Christmas with merchandise from The Harrods Shop. The main section has stunning mini room sets with feature fire places and beautifully dressed Christmas Trees give elegance, luxury and opulence.  The fixtures and gondola’s are superbly merchandised which makes it easy for customers to browse and shop. And yes, customers were buying and the tills were ringing!

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Anyone for Afternoon Tea?

Afternoon tea is a long-standing British tradition and a must-try on any visit to London. From themed meals to traditional styles, this ceremonious event is steeped in history and can be enjoyed at some of London’s top hotels, restaurants and department stores, all offering their individual take on this quintessentially British occasion.

It all started in the 1800’s when Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford who, at the time was a close friend of Queen Victoria and a prominent figure within London society complained of “having that sinking feeling” during the late afternoon.

She wanted something small to satisfy her hunger, nothing too large just something to see her through till dinner time.

From this want, the afternoon tea ritual was born. However, it was traditionally only a small bite of something, not the big celebration it is now.

This tradition has reached the retail stores in Britain, none more so than Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly. Their window concepts are superbly styled beautifully which is synonymous with this fine English store.

There are many places in London where you can indulge in Afternoon Tea. Now we see the VM concept of Afternoon Tea in many stores from Home to Fashion to Food.

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A Sign of the Times.

Have you ever noticed how much signage, ticketing and graphics are now an integral part or Visual Merchandising?

Whether it’s a graphic panel in a window display or ticketing promoting a new product or a branding block, these elements enhance the store image and the appeal of the merchandise.

Graphics play a vital role in the design of the store and in the communicating a promotion or Brand message.

Gone are the days when stores used no signage, nowadays it all about creating theatre. Large graphic panels in windows or the signage on the doors will guide you into the store, while in-store signage/ticketing do more than inform you as the price of an item. A ticket will educate the customer about the product, reinforce a promotion and will ultimately make the decision as to whether the customer buys the merchandise.

In this digital age in some stores, you are now able to scan your smart phone on the QR Code and receive information about the product.

Apart from having an in-house VM team, many large stores will also employ a team of Graphic Designers who role is to devise new and exciting graphics and tickets for the shop floor. Coupled with this, many stores will have facilities to print all ticketing, signage and graphics in-house.

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Ho Ho Ho…..Merry Christmas!

With temperatures in London hitting over 30 degrees, you’ve probably forgotten Christmas is only 4 months away. But Selfridges has launched Christmas, well a soft launch, predominately promoting London themed Christmas merchandise. The store will hit peak stock in September when shoppers will be able to purchase from the full selection of Christmas as the shelves will be packed with garlands, trees, baubles and Christmas goodies!

Naturally customers will have divided opinions, but I know from experience from my days as VM Manager at Selfridges that sales are driven by early Christmas shoppers and tourists. Given the volume of Christmas merchandise that Selfridges purchases from suppliers, it makes commercial sense to launch Christmas now.

Retail is all about creating the wow factor, creating retail theatre and more importantly educating customers as to what’s new in merchandise. While in Selfridges yesterday, shoppers were certainly happy to browse and the tills were certainly ringing which has to be good for revenue.

Harrods will be the next to launch Christmas which is usually within the first two weeks of August. This is closely followed by Fortnum & Mason which is usually early/mid-September.

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