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Retail Chatter #4

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'Tis the season, or not just yet?

Holiday window time is here and to think that some stores have already started the process of creating their 2014 windows is a feat. The anticipation has been building. Before the unveiling we wondered if this year's window would be as elaborate as the last window and what the themes would have been. One can only imagine the enormous planning that takes place, from creating the storyboard, building the pieces off site then shipping and reassembling the story into the physical window. What a great way of displaying one's creativity and gaining consumers' attention, or have we gotten away from the idea of truly celebrating the holiday season and have shifted the focus on marketing and sales?

The Thanksgiving meal wasn't even on the table but yet, the windows were up, Christmas songs were blaring and stores had already started their extended holiday hours which puts pressure on us to come bearing gifts. Retail stores such as Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Galeries Lafayette, Cartier, and Harrods do a superb job with their over the top windows which certainly puts you in the mood. With Lord & Taylor being the first in America to unveil their windows, have brands gotten away with starting this process too early? Will consumers be bored of looking at these windows come December 25th?

There used to be a time, not so long ago when visiting the holiday windows after Thanksgiving was an activity just like going to see a show on Broadway. We didn't mind standing in the long lines to meet other people who were equally as thrilled to stand between the barricades to get an up close and personal view of these extravagant windows. Those days have since come and gone, with the unveiling presiding way before our turkey meal.

If this year is any indication of 2012 holiday sales, then retailers will be mirroring last year's WWD article of dependency on post holiday sales to make up their numbers. One can only hope of being flat or up to last year's business. It's predicted that consumers during this holiday season will cut back their spending by 2 percent but depending on who gets the bigger piece of the pie, it could be as big or as little as buying a piece of jewelry from Cartier, or a handbag from Coach.

Although we look forward to this time of year to share the meaning of gift giving, brands have taken the opportunity to turn this into a marketing strategy. As examples of Saks Fifth Avenue creating the concept of Yeti, the neglected snow maker, Bergdorf Goodman's Holiday on Ice, Galeries Lafayette cuckoo clocks and stop watches with dancing figurines and Harrods Christmas express luxury train full of stylish passengers.

With the focus of the holiday windows taken away from Santa, has he decided just to stay at the North Pole?!