LONDON — If a store unveils its Christmas windows, and no one is around to see, do they bring any cheer?
Harvey Nichols has faced up to a great philosophical question brought on by England’s latest national lockdown, unveiling Christmas windows at its stores across the U.K. and Ireland with few, if any, people to enjoy them.
England went into a second, four-week lockdown at the start of this month, and while the government is hoping to ease those restrictions on Dec. 2, there are no guarantees that will happen, even with promising vaccines on the horizon and a stir-crazy population eager to get back into shops, pubs and restaurants.
Selfridges flipped on the Christmas window lights the week that lockdown began, while on Tuesday Harvey Nichols did the same, albeit with a pared-back display that puts the focus on the future.
The windows of the Knightsbridge store feature a simple color scheme in shimmering mirror and silver, with messages written in neon lights, including “Bring on 2021,” and “Bah Humbug,” alongside stars, mirror balls and blinking lights.
Janet Wardley, head of visual display at Harvey Nichols, said because 2020 “has been a year unlike any other, we’ve come up with a concept that looks forward to the New Year, while also reflecting the sentiment that many of us are feeling at present. It’s all done with Harvey Nichols’ sense of humor that we hope will raise a smile in passersby.”
It’s no wonder that Harvey Nichols is looking to the future, as 2020 has been a rotten year all round for British retailers, which have been forced to shut and lay off staff due to the coronavirus.
London retailers have been particularly hard hit by the freeze on international tourism, and the chilling prospect that the U.K. Treasury could cancel the tax-free shopping for visitors from outside the EU as of Jan. 1.
Bah humbug, indeed.
Selfridges is another retailer that’s hoping for a cheery holiday season. Earlier this month the store debuted its “Once Upon a Christmas,” campaign showing Santa decorating a Christmas tree in one of the Oxford Street flagship’s windows, and other familiar characters such as the Fairy Godmother.
Other windows feature Christmas trees by artists such as Antony Burill, Helen Bullock and Hanna Hansdotter.