The classic and evolving art of the window display

When your business uses custom window graphics to attract buyers, it's putting its own stamp on an old industry tradition. Even though technology has changed a lot about how consumers shop and purchase goods, the classic image of the shop window display still endures, and KPCC Southern California Radio recently looked at this custom and what it means for modern commerce.

With the recent holidays, anyone in range of a busy city shopping center likely had the chance to see some form of extravagant display that involved wintry and festive decorations. But the traditional window display goes back farther than that, and at one time was a crucial way for a retail shop to easily define itself and sum up what it had to offer.

Historian Michael Lisicky told the source that the source that the practice can be traced to the turn of the 20th century.

"Window displays are a part of advertising," he said. "It's an advertising, yes, it goes back to when stores were just figuring out who they were. This was before newspapers, this was before television. You needed the windows to define yourself."

There are hints that technology could also play a role in emphasizing new window content rather than distracting from them. Recently, Google updated its maps function to help users find interesting displays in New York City and London. If this gets extended year-round, it could be more encouragement for customers to venture out and see these lavish setups in person.

To make a display really stand out, businesses should be mindful of the window graphics they are using and whether or not they correspond with the material being offered. They should also place and design these graphics so they won't obscure the items in the window.