Consumer Reaction and Perception of the Physical, Visual Presentation of Debenhams’ Discounting

Prime Trading Versus Sale Visual Merchandising Standards

Lesley A. Taylor

Business Case
Source: Bloomsbury Fashion Business Cases
DOI: 10.5040/9781474208789.002
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This case study centers on the potential effects of a department store window display and its impact on sales in the bricks-and-mortar retail environment. As the “high street” battles with the internet, visual presentation is key to driving sales in the bricks-and-mortar environment. Prime trading and promotion of new season lines (for example, spring/summer) and seasonal promotions (for example, Christmas, Mother’s Day) are highly designed and pleasing aesthetically as they are calendar driven and the financial targets are high. In the UK, sales (discounting) often has a much lower standard of presentation that is not aesthetically pleasing and that some consumers dislike (or even avoid) on account of the basic nature of the window (often a poster, fallen off the glass in front of a dressed window) and fragmented store merchandising.

As existing literature on the subject tends to focus on the “best,” prime trading windows, this case study of Debenhams department store puts forward the argument that discount promotions are treated as “second best” visually and asks students to consider the risks of such a strategy and to suggest potential alternatives.

2020 proved to be a turning point in Debenhams’ fortunes and this case unpacks the events leading up to their entry into voluntary administration.

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