Visual Merchandising for the Holidays

Learn how to maximize your visual merchandising this holiday season.
by Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender

Let’s assume that you have already hired and trained stellar seasonal employees, and have discussed ways to attract,

engage and connect with shoppers this holiday season. On the sales floor it’s all about the customer experience; an experience that determines how long they stay, what they buy, and what they say about your store after they leave.

No matter its size or footprint, your store has a decompression zone, lake front property (space on the sales floor that sells better than other areas of the store), and a cash wrap. Let’s take a look at visual merchandising tricks of the trade you can use to set impressive displays and sell more product.


The fixturing you choose adds flavor to your sales floor, but keep in mind that a fixture’s job is to house merchandise; you aren’t supposed to see it – good fixtures make the merchandise the star. You need basic fixturing like wall units and shelving to maximize dollars per square foot, and specialty fixturing to feature important items.

Remember that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires a minimum of 3 feet in between fixtures. If customers can’t shop comfortably they aren’t likely to stay very long.

Sight Lines

Shoppers make value judgments about store within the first 10 seconds of contact. They don’t realize they’re doing it, but they are mentally cataloging whether or not they want to spend time in that space. You want them to be intrigued and anxious to enter so begin by placing shorter fixtures near the front and taller fixtures towards the rear of the store. This sight line allows shoppers standing near the front to see through your sales floor, drawing them to the various areas of the store.

Speed Bump Displays

Place this important fixture front and center so it’s the first thing shoppers see as they enter the store. Load it with irresistible products displayed on a small fixture (stacking tables make great speed bumps) that can hold an assortment of product and is low enough to allow customers shop it easily and see into the store. Use your speed bumps to feature new and trendy items, and to tell product stories.

Keep it Simple

Shoppers passing by a display need to be able to understand its message within five seconds or less. It’s easy to go overboard, thinking “I can add this and this and this!” Add too much and all you are doing is making the display harder to shop. Sometimes the simplest displays make the greatest impact.

Play with Color

We are naturally drawn to color so use it to your advantage wherever you can. Group bright or contrasting colors together on wall unites and freestanding displays to attract shoppers and to tell a story.

Go Vertical

Any time you display product vertically, you expose the customer to a greater variety of the assortment at any eye level. And since we are naturally inclined to read from left to right, Vertical Merchandising encourages purchases because customers will see your entire selection of merchandise wherever they look. Going vertical makes every level buy level.

Throw ’em a Curve

Visual Curve Merchandising involves the use of slanted shelves or waterfall brackets to increase the customer’s strike zone—the amount of product the customer sees in just one glance. Without realizing it, the visual curve forces the shopper to look up and down at the product as well as forward.


Remember that old retail adage: “If it smells, it sells”? Turns out it’s true: Researchers have found that a pleasant-smelling environment has a positive effect on shopping behavior. We all respond to good scents, maybe because they have the power to evoke memory. Who hasn’t gotten a whiff of something familiar and been instantly transported to another place
in time?

Aromacology is the science of scent and its effect on our minds and moods. Grapefruit, for example, will give shoppers a burst of energy, vanilla will calm them when the store is hectic, pine inspires positive feelings, and cinnamon is said to attract money. So put out the potpourri, or better yet, purchase a diffuser. ScentAir has every fragrance you can imagine and unobtrusive diffusers you can tuck away anywhere on the sales floor.

Merchandising your sales floor this holiday season can’t be left to just anyone; you have to know what you’re doing to do it well. Have fun with your displays and your customers will, too!

American Quilt Retailer Contributor Kizer & BenderRich Kizer and Georganne Bender are consumer anthropologists, speakers, authors and consultants. A team since 1990, Kizer & Bender have helped thousands of companies in the service, travel, hospitality, funeral, restaurant, and retail industries grow their business. Kizer & Bender are experts on generational diversity, store design, visual merchandising, marketing and promotion, and everything retail.

Click here to learn more about Kizer and Bender, American Quilt Retailer business experts.

This article was originally published in the Fall 2018 Quilt Market Recap Issue of American Quilt Retailer. Download your free copy today!