Holidays

Macy's Holiday Window Designer Shares 3 Secrets for Better Holiday Displays

Roya Sullivan, the brains behind Macy's intricate holiday windows, shares with us some tips on any business can create a successful window display.
Macy's Holiday Window Designer Shares 3 Secrets for Better Holiday Displays
Image credit: Andrew Kelly | AP Images

From family gatherings to gift exchanges, the holidays have finally arrived. This festive time of year is not only exciting for people but retailers, too. Businesses are pushing their special promotions, organizing in-store events and restocking inventory to ensure a successful holiday season. But probably most importantly -- at least for us consumers --  are the magical holiday windows.

Related: The 5 Most Stunning Holiday Windows in New York City -- and What You Can Learn From Them

Since we can recall, retailers across the country have been sprucing up their window displays with festive decor to showcase their latest offerings and entice people to enter their store -- with one being Macy’s.

Known for its stunning holiday windows in major metropolitan areas -- including New York City, San Francisco and Chicago -- Macy’s windows are a tradition for thousands of people. But pulling off such a massive exhibit isn’t easy. According to Roya Sullivan, the national window director for Macy’s, the ramp up to the big unveil takes about eight months. Between negotiating with the fashion office, marketing team, vendors and merchants; putting together the year’s calendar, being ahead of trends and designing and sourcing materials, there is a lot of work and strategy that goes into those beautiful holiday windows.

And while increasing foot traffic is definitely a goal, so is building brand awareness and goodwill within the community. “[We are] interested in exciting our customers and creating experiences that the customers will enjoy,” Sullivan says.

Today, that means keeping up with trends, incorporating technology into the displays and seeing how people interact with the windows. For instance, for this year’s “Believing the Magic” theme, the team noticed how kids have steered away from writing letters to Santa Claus, and instead sending emails and creating YouTube videos. So one of Macy’s holiday windows features Santa Claus’ “communication center,” where elves are receiving YouTube videos from kids of their Christmas lists.

Related: The 6 Musts of a Successful Holiday Marketing Campaign

These engaging window displays aren’t just for the big guys; small businesses should seize the opportunity, too. The displays are a way for any brand to connect with customers, show off their products, create experiences and join in the holiday conversation.

Below, Sullivan shares some advice for businesses looking to jazz up their holiday windows.  

1. Focus on quality over quantity.

If you have great products, they should be shown in your holiday windows. But don’t overdo it. Rather than flooding your windows with products, be strategic about it.  By focusing on the composition of your window display, such as clever details and ways to interact with customers, a company can create a compelling story or theme. This will help to engage people and catch their attention.

2. Plan your schedule early.

Macy’s plans its holiday window displays a year in advance. Immediately after taking down the holiday windows, come January and they are in the ideation process for the following holiday displays.

Related: 5 Tips to Get Your Website Ready for the Holidays

And while small businesses likely don’t have an entire department devoted to display, that doesn’t mean they should ignore the opportunity to plan early. By doing so, the store be able to create quality and well-executed window displays.

3. Add some movement.

Sullivan is confident that movement will engage consumers -- even if it’s just the slightest. It’s attention grabbing and helps create an interactive aspect that will get customers through the doors. “For us, looking at how people receive information” and “interact with technology” is a major factor that influences what will be put in the windows, says Sullivan.

Being ahead of the trends both in your industry and in technology will drive engagement and enhance the consumer experience.

Edition: December 2016

Get the Magazine

Limited-Time Offer: 1 Year Print + Digital Edition and 2 Gifts only $9.99
Subscribe Now