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What is a Window Display?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 16, 2024
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A window display is a grouping of merchandise in a retail establishment's storefront area. For shops with street access, the storefront section has an outer door and usually one or two windows. Stores inside a shopping mall usually have at least one clear wall beside their entrance or they have a solid wall with a display window that looks out into the inside of the mall. A shopping mall may be defined as one or more buildings that contain separate retail units. Displaying store merchandise is known as visual merchandising and window displays show potential customers items that are for sale inside the shop, so that hopefully they will enter the store to purchase these or other goods.

Getting attention is an essential quality of a good window display. An attention-getting display at the store entrance can entice passers-by into entering the store and this is what storeowners hope their display accomplishes. Many times, shoppers will go into a shop because something showcased in the window caught their eye. They may ask the storeowner to see the item or just browse around and perhaps see other goods they're interested in purchasing. In this way, attractive window displays can increase store traffic.

Clothing store window displays often feature mannequins wearing outfits sold in the shop. A mannequin is a doll-like figure or model, usually made from plastic or other synthetic materials, that is made to look like a man, woman or child. Some mannequins have movable joints so that the arms and legs can be positioned in different poses. Since mannequins are usually life-sized, they can command attention in a window display.

The most interesting window displays create a theme such as back to school with autumn leaves behind sweater and jean-clad mannequins holding books. Other popular themes revolve around holidays such as Christmas and Valentine's Day, and new or popular merchandise that is available.

The theme of a window display should reflect what is available for sale inside the store so that customers know what to expect. Window displays are usually changed at least every season. It takes practice to create displays that are creative without being gaudy. The overall look of a window display should suit the store's personality while highlighting the products the store sells.

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Discussion Comments

By anon179608 — On May 24, 2011

i think stores should change their window displays according to events that are going on. for example, when commonwealth games were going on, apparel stores could display their products accordingly.

By anon43502 — On Aug 29, 2009

Visual inspiration is available online for anyone who likes to see or create one of those interesting window displays.

By anon41623 — On Aug 16, 2009

It's amazing what you guys create!

Well, not all of you, but there sure are some great artists among you. Keep it up!

By anon39090 — On Jul 30, 2009

I think stores should change their windows more often. Every season is just not enough.

I'm biased of course, because I'm a freelance visual merchandiser but I'm also a customer. I want to be entertained because why else would I go into a store that wants to be boring?

Some stores in New York change their window displays every 2 to 3 weeks. Most stores don't have that kind of money but like you (Sheri) say, at the very least, window displays need to be changed every season.

When you can't find the inspiration to come up with great windows more often then hire someone like me :)

Or you can go to flea markets or visit websites or just buy some history books. Ideas are everywhere. You shouldn't use that as an excuse for not trying to delight and surprise your customers more often.

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