Dressing up for John Lewis Welwyn Garden City

WALKING around the shops now you could be excused for thinking we were right on the verge of Christmas.

Ok we sort of are (five weeks and two days to anyone counting today, Wednesday), but again, as every year, it seems to me to be very early.

Almost every shop is adorned in festivity.

Nevertheless, early or not, it does look great and it also tends to put you in the Yuletide mood.

No more is this true than in John Lewis, in WGC.

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Not just indoors, but also in their outdoor display windows where they have gone to town.

And last week I was given the opportunity to see just how the magic is created when I was invited behind the scenes to help form the very last window for the Christmas period.

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The first thing I found out is that although we all seem to say Christmas is getting earlier every year, John Lewis have been putting up their decorations in the same time period for years and years.

So that put me right.

Then I discovered that around the WGC store there are 32 different windows to address, which according to the Visual Merchandise staff (the sector that deals with the look of the shop), is the second most in the John Lewis chain, next to Oxford Street.

To say the least then they are kept busy; especially when you consider they have to design and put up all the in-store decs, and refresh the stock in the windows three times over the Christmas period.

But it is all very, very well organised. It has to be – the deadlines are tight and they hope to complete the final windows within a day.

So organised that workers are already planning for Christmas months in advance, in April/May, when they are sent the plans and the theme for the majority of their windows from John Lewis headquarters.

From there the next step follows a series of meetings, while balancing the ongoing windows at the time.

The end product is what you see at this time of year; a faultless-looking window filled with great Christmas stock.

The last window which I helped fit is filled with the this year’s top toys, which are picked from John Lewis’ top 100 list.

As it is one of the windows around the back of the store, facing The Campus, it does not get as much footfall as the others, so the designers have a little more room to play around with the look when compared to the front windows.

Needless to say, though, it still follows JL’s theme this year, which seems to be bright, bold colours, hanging decorative balls and synthetic snow on the floor.

Getting all the stock inside and setup correctly takes quite some skill.

First of all it has to be designed to fit correctly using a PC.

Then comes the small matter of actually fitting the windows with the stock and the decorations.

This is where I helped out for roughly an hour.

It was no where near enough to see the window complete but it gave me a rough idea of how it is done.

Which seems to be with difficulty.

Most of the day is spent running from the stock room and back to the window again with spare bits and bobs which are needed.

All the time while trying to disturb the shoppers as little as possible.

I left knackered.

There was so much carrying of bits and pieces and walking around the maze which are John Lewis’ backrooms.

I now appreciate all the hard work involved and I hope you do too.

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