The High Street Fights Back this Christmas

High street retailers are encouraging customers to take a chance on them this Christmas – pointing out the advantages of shopping in a bricks and mortar store, rather than online. The high street is fighting back after a mediocre year in an uncertain economic climate!

A report released in September revealed high street shops had suffered their worst month’s trading since 2011, with the financial uncertainty caused by Brexit largely being blamed for the slump. Sales in-store were down 3.1% compared with September 2018.

London High Street

© lazyllama / Adobe Stock


High street blues

Sales had already plummeted by 2.7% prior to this. According to the BDO High Street Sales Tracker, the worst-hit category in 2019 was lifestyle, which fell by 5.4%, producing its worst figures since the recession in November 2008. Fashion had recovered slightly at the start of 2019, but sales fell by 2% in September.

The continuing wrangle over Britain’s impending exit from the EU was cited as the largest single contributory factor, although the collapse of big household names such as Thomas Cook appeared to unnerve shoppers even more. Some analysts have called it a “disastrous” year for the high street so far.


Festive fightback

It’s no surprise that retailers are hoping to fight back this Christmas. Traditionally, this is the “golden quarter” in the financial year, thanks to Black Friday and the festive season, so the sector needs to finish the year strong.

A consumer survey of 1,000 adults in the UK in August 2019 revealed 30% of them intended to head to the high street first for their Christmas shopping. This compared with 30.1% of respondents who planned to shop on Amazon.

The survey by Shopblocks concluded it was important that the high street made every effort to entice shoppers who were planning to look online for gift ideas. Bricks and mortar stores have a unique opportunity to give consumers something the e-commerce stores can’t offer – the whole sensory experience of physically checking out products.

For example, people can test the make-up and check out the colours in person. Many larger stores even offer customers a free mini-makeover so they can see how the latest cosmetics look. Customers can smell the perfumes, feel how smooth the garments are and touch the shoe leather to test its quality.


Christmas experience

While it’s undoubtedly convenient to shop online from your own home, in the run-up to Christmas, there’s nothing like the complete high street experience. Walking through a shopping centre, hearing the festive music, stopping to listen to carol singers and grabbing a snack from a food vendor… well, that’s what Christmas shopping is about, surely?

Soak up the Christmas atmosphere in the shops and then go for mulled wine and mince pies to bring your trip to a festive conclusion. Retailers need to capitalise on the enjoyment of Christmas shopping in person to lure consumers away from internet shopping sites like Amazon and eBay.

The current Visa Christmas advert encourages people to shop on the high street. The advert features 13 real-life shopkeepers including a greengrocer, a bookseller, an antique dealer and a café owner encouraging shoppers to shop locally.

They sing Queen’s Somebody To Love, as they ask people to show their high street some love and support local businesses.


Window display

With competition at a peak over Christmas, just what can shopkeepers do to make their premises stand out from their rivals? First impressions count and the answer is to have an eye-catching and engaging window display that stands out from the rest as shoppers walk down the high street.

It’s the first thing people see, turning passers-by into customers. Even if you’re a small retailer, who doesn’t have the luxury of a dedicated visual merchandising team, make the most of your window space with the resources you have available.

Your Christmas window display is the key to your festive sales and it’s important to give it plenty of thought and plan the design carefully. Concentrate on building a positive identity for your brand, so that passers-by are tempted to stop, take a second look and come inside.



Most professional window dressers will agree that a Christmas window display works best when it tells a story. This relates to the fact that we love hearing stories as children. When we grow up, we still love a good story, so visual merchandising that captures a magical Christmas tale can connect with shoppers on an emotional level.

Think about the story you wish to tell and how it impacts on your brand and your target audience. Create a festive feeling using a mixture of lights and colours. The traditional festive hues are golds, reds and greens and you can incorporate them into your window display, further setting the mood with the lighting and decorations.

You have only one chance to make a first impression, so help the high street fight back this Christmas by creating an enticing window display that captures the festive spirit. Even if you attract only a small percentage of the thousands of passers-by, this will increase your footfall significantly.

Commercial Aluminium Shopfronts (CAS) supplies and installs high-quality shopfront windows for your retail store, creating a fresh and inviting feel. Please contact us for details – we can help you stay in the game!

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