Your retail shop window display plays a huge part in getting people through the door. We’ve scoured the internet (and the streets) for the freshest retail window display ideas, and talked to seasoned pros about how they approach this task (and how often).
So whether it’s your first time setting up a retail window display, or you’re just after some more shop window display ideas, we’ve got you covered with over 21 inspirational setups and invaluable first-hand advice.
21 Retail shop window display ideas (by theme)
- Pack a punch with colour
- Switch it up with window stickers
- Go heavy on flowers and plants
- Light the way
- Try paper installations and decorations
- Brighten things up with banners and bunting
Maximise display space with compartments
1. Pack a punch with colour
The simplest window displays are sometimes the most enticing, and appear the most put-together. Get it right, and you can create something that’s affordable, striking, and easy to change.
But without a common thread, your window could end up looking more thrown together than curated. We love windows themed by colour, and arranged carefully — the colour pulls the whole display together. Just make sure you add different height levels to keep it interesting.
Notice how both windows aren’t working with just one specific colour, but rather a strict palette of tonally similar ones? Bonus points if it ties in with the colour of your storefront!
That said, we also love it when a shop window ditches the idea of one colour palette altogether and just goes for all-out maximalism...
📍The Happydashery, Leighton Buzzard
📍In Habit, London
2. Switch it up with window stickers
If you only have a small space and not a lot of surface area to work within your window, a vinyl can really elevate the look of your store. They’re also perfect quick solutions to events, like Mother’s and Father’s Day.
For Lift, which is tucked away from the main high street in Southwold, the vinyls are more than just decoration; they're an important way of showing the store's key product categories to anyone looking on from afar.
3. Go heavy on plants and flowers
Plants have become a home staple, so incorporating them into your shop window display is going to give it a really welcoming, homely feel.
Our advice here is to go big. Small plants won’t have much impact, whereas larger ones can really add depth and character to your display.
Waiste Vintage in Brighton, UK, combines vintage clothes with a small plant shop. It’s a readymade formula for beautiful shop window displays.
Don’t trust yourself with a living plant? We get it. In which case, the dried flowers trend may be more up your street.
Dried flowers and grasses are on-trend, and last significantly longer than their fresh counterparts, making them a really handy prop to have in every shop owner’s cupboard.
📍FlowerBar, St Ives, Cambridgeshire
📍Stems Wilder, London
📍In Bloom, London
Of course, being a plant or flower shop makes it a lot easier to build a beautiful plant-themed display! We love these three from Stems Wilder, In Bloom and the FlowerBar.
4. Light the way
Most shop owners reach for the lights around Christmas time, but there are plenty of ways to use lights to your advantage all year round.
Neon lights are a fun and eye-catching alternative to traditional shop signs, for example.
We love The Pop-Up Club’s window. The display itself is fairly pared-back, but the combination of great merchandising, huge windows and a simple neon sign works wonders.
Lighting isn’t just decorative, though. You need to make sure your window display will be properly illuminated when it’s dark out, and draw extra attention to your focus product. Installing positionable high lumen LED lamps is best for this.
5. Try paper installations and decorations
It’s not until you try to hang something from your shop ceiling that you realize its weight is kind of important, so the trend for paper installations is both a practical and a stylish one.
We can’t get enough of this display in the On Paper shop window! It’s super eye-catching while also tying in really well with their products (notebooks, journals and pens).
6. Brighten things up with banners and bunting
If your window display is mainly table height or lower, you may find you have a lot of empty window space above it. Bunting and banners are a great way to bring your whole window together, without obscuring too much of the store behind it.
A couple of strings of bunting bring just the right amount of kitsch to this little homeware shop, while Montezuma's colourful display packs a chocolatey punch.
Space gets creative with its interpretation of bunting, showing off cards for sale in a creative way that maximises space.
7. Maximise display space with compartments
Ideal if you sell smaller items (like baby clothes or pottery), using compartments or other clever display features in your store window can really help you get the most out of the space, and break down the
📍Know & Love, London
📍Villa Bologna Pottery, London
📍Norfolk Natural Living, Holt
📍What Mother Made, London
Retail window display ideas for seasons & events
Here are some seasonal suggestions to bookmark for later:
4 Tips for designing a shop window display
We’ve shown you some of our favourite retail shop window display ideas, and you should be feeling inspired to get started on your own.
But how do you actually pull it all together? Here's our advice.
1. Decide which products to include
While well-known brands can get away with more abstract displays, smaller retailers should focus on their products.
And while it might be tempting to put stock that isn’t shifting in the window, you’re much better off going with your bestsellers — preferably a nice variety of products, with different sizes.
But also keep in mind that a product is likely to become more popular simply by being in the window. So you need to make sure you have enough stock to allow for that — otherwise, you’ll either be switching products around constantly, or disappointing people who come into your store for a certain item they’ve seen outside.
We recommend starting with one focus product, and maybe two to four ‘secondary’ products, depending on the size of your space.
Ask the experts: Laura, Handmade Design
“Planning our shop window displays is one of my favourite jobs! To keep things fresh, I try and change our shop window display every few weeks, even if it’s just a case of changing the smaller pieces. When I’m planning a shop window display, I will always try and think of a theme. There are of course the obvious ones throughout the year: Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter, etc. Outside of those, I might pick a particular colour palette or product type. As we aren’t based in a coastal town, for the summer I’ve decided to go for a nature inspired window with lots of florals and bees.
📍Handmade Design, Ashbourne
Before I even begin playing with the window display, I simply sit down with a pen and paper and write down all the products that I feel would fit to my theme.
Sometimes I even walk around the shop over and over again, as things do have a habit of jumping up at me! Once I’ve put a list together, I go through it to make sure we have a good mix of product types of sizes.
Once I’m armed with my list, I put the large pieces in first (for us it’s furniture) and then I just start playing to see what works!”
Images courtesy of Handmade Design
2. Sketch out placement
Your focus product should sit at eye level. This will give it the best chance of doing its job, and pulling people into your store.
Everything else can fit in around it. That means your secondary products, and any other props, like banners, plants and lights.
You have a delicate balance to strike here. You want your retail window display to look purposeful and impactful, but you don’t want to take up too much space.
While it was once common practice to block out your shop window as a kind of self-contained space, we now understand that people are more likely to enter a store if they can see through the window and into the main space. Plus, if you fill the window with too many products, you can cause ‘choice overload’ — if your customers’ minds are overstimulated, it’s less likely that one great product will stand out to them, and bring them inside.
Ask the experts: Helen, Hummingbird
“I’m not a great planner of window displays, although I do try, especially for Christmas when I start planning in September and work to sketches I have done.
I tend to be more reactive to when new stock arrives, the weather changes, or things are happening — for example we did a display in red and white to reflect the fact England had reached the Euro finals. A display often evolves and changes as I am creating it. We try and change the window fortnightly to keep it looking fresh and keep people interested but they often get refreshed in the meantime if things sell.
I spend a lot of time looking at Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration and love trying out new ideas. Some work, some don’t, but as long as they make people stop and look that’s the whole point. We have lots of comments regarding our displays and that’s something I’m really proud of — having two shops with completely different window spaces is definitely a challenge.”
Images courtesy of Hummingbird
3. Work out what props you need
To achieve your dream window display, you’re going to need some practical props to allow you to get the right lighting and heights.
We’ve touched on using lights for decoration, but it’s also a good idea to get some more practical ones in. As well as installing positionable LED lights above your window, it’s worth trying some extra lamps. These little IKEA lamps are perfect for adding a pop of light to lower areas.
Plinths and pedestals
Plinths and pedestals vary the height of your display, giving it depth, and meaning you can get your focus products at that all-important eye level. Plinths and Pedestals carries a really large selection of acrylic choices, and we also love the wire and wood options from UK POS.
4. Measure success
So you’ve put together a window display you’re really proud of. But how do you know if it’s actually working? There are a few things to try or look out for:
- How your window products are selling. A spike in sales of these products shows they’re catching people’s attention.
- Changes in number of visitors. A tool like FootfallCam can take care of this for you, or you may be able to track it manually on quieter days. This isn’t a perfect metric (general footfall will increase or decrease for any number of reasons), but it can help you spot trends.
- Comments from customers. If you’re getting a lot of people asking to find products in the window, you know you’re doing a good job!
1. Where can I find shop window inspiration?
The most challenging part of designing a store window display is that you have to redo it so frequently, so even the most creative people will sometimes need some extra inspiration.
When that happens, here’s where we like to go for shop window display inspiration:
- Pinterest — Pinterest is perfect for browsing different shop window displays for inspiration, especially when you’re looking around a particular event. We’ve got a board of retail window inspiration on the go, and we’d love to add some images from our retailers to it. If you’re proud of your storefront, send it in!
- Instagram — Search for hashtags like #shopwindow #storewindow #shopwindowdisplay #shopwindowdesign for inspiration. As you can see, we sourced a lot of images for this post from Instagram.
2. How often should you change your shop window display?
The question of how often to change your shop window display is a tough one. Once shops are ‘into the swing’ of doing their displays, they will change them as often as every couple of weeks, with big themed displays for all the big occasions.
It’s important for your window to feel fresh. Depending on where you’re located, you could get people walking past your store several times a week. They need to see something new to be enticed in.
But there’s also an argument for putting all your effort into a great display (and changing it, say, every couple of months), rather than delivering a load of half-baked attempts. You can refresh things a little by switching out some products in the meantime. Only you will know how much inspiration and resources you have to give.
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