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John Ryan

Everything to Play For

It’s the holidays, but will they be happy? For some, certainly

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HAPPY HOLIDAYS! The elves are outside Hamleys on London’s Regent Street, the ads are on the television with all of the major retailers vying to put us in the mood for the festive season (oh yes, and to buy some of their merchandise) and shoppers are beginning to realize that there’s not that long until they have to start exchanging gifts, again.

Yes, the “Golden Quarter” is well and truly underway, that period on which most shopkeepers rely to keep their heads above water when the counting is done at some point in the early New Year. And as ever, the big question is will the shoppers come out and do the right thing? Well, very possibly. Even with a backdrop that sees inflation sweeping across Europe (and North America), worries about what 2023 may bring and the near certainty that another crisis of some kind or another will confront us in the next 12 months, consumers will dig deep.

They will be choosy, however, and the 2022 holiday shopping season will probably be marked by a number of high-profile retailers doing well, while a significant cohort will feel an equally marked pinch. This may well turn out to one of the most competitive end-of-years that we have seen and at a time like this, only the best will do.

The matter of what “best” actually means is pretty straightforward. Windows, for those outfits that have them, will need to be not just glitzy, but have a degree of originality and thought about them and, to an extent, display some empathy with what’s been going on. In-store, lights and glitter will not suffice – skillful visual merchandising and perhaps a degree of playfulness will be repaid.

This may be a tough time, but there is still everything to play for and to judge by the current efforts of the major players in London, best feet really are being put forward.

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John Ryan is a journalist covering the retail sector, a role he has fulfilled for more than a decade. As well as being the European Editor of VMSD magazine, he writes for a broad range of publications in the U.K., the U.S. and Germany with a focus on in-store marketing, display and layout, as well as the business of store architecture and design. In a previous life, he was a buyer for C&A, based in London and then Düsseldorf, Germany. He lives and works in London.

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