Merchandising Know-How: Create a display calendar

Picture this. It's Monday and you've just received shipments of spring merchandise. You stand in the backroom checking it in and wondering where you are going to place it on the floor. Sound familiar?

Picture this. It's Monday and you've just received shipments of spring merchandise. You stand in the backroom checking it in and wondering where you are going to place it on the floor. Sound familiar?

There is a right way to handle new product. At the beginning of each season, take time to construct a visual merchandising plan based on what you've ordered. Here's how: Go to your computer, open up Excel and create a display calendar to plan your strategy. Be flexible as your needs may change as deliveries are sometimes unpredictable.

Your calendar should have the following categories across the top -- Week and Month, Theme, Product, Interior Displays, Window Displays, Props, Signs, Advertising, Promotions.

As you begin to receive your first deliveries of spring merchandise, do the following:

  1. Decide what merchandise you will feature. Choose from your main categories of hardgoods, softgoods and accessories
  2. Based on the featured merchandise, choose a theme for the month. It could be as simple as "Spring Has Sprung" or "New Spring Arrivals." Based on the color assortment of your merchandise, choose a color scheme for your displays.
  3. Plan how many displays you will create and where you will place them -- front windows, entrance, walls, etc.
  4. List the props you think you'll needs for the displays.
  5. Plan signage -- How many will you need, what should they say and where will they be placed?
  6. Plan your advertising and in-store promotions to coincide with your displays of new product

As a result, your display calendar could look like this:

Week and Month: Fourth week in February through March

Theme: Spring Has Arrived!

Featured Products: Sandals, lightweight fleece jackets, shorts, skirts, T-shirts, hats, tents and packs

Displays: Wallboards will show apparel. A tent will be set up in the flex display space at the front of the store and accessorized with lightweight sleeping bags, camping gear and footwear. Front windows will have a display of shorts, T-shirts, sandals and packs.

Props: Trees or branches, flowers in pots, rocks. A backdrop of colorful sheer nylon panels hung from the ceiling that move because of a small fan placed in the bottom of the window.

Signs: Place vinyl lettering in the lower third of the front window with the theme "Spring Has Arrived!" Put rack-top signage on the 4-ways and T-stands where the newly arrived apparel hangs. Also include signs in the footwear and hardgoods departments announcing the theme.

Advertising: Co-op with vendors to promote ads featuring the products on display.

Promotions: Tie in with an adventure travel company to present a talk on spring vacation spots.

Sharon Leicham is the creator of The MerchandisingHUB, the author of "Merchandising Your Way to Success" and "How to Sell to Women" and is a regular columnist for SNEWS® writing on merchandising and marketing topics. You can access all of her columns by going to, where you will find tons of information targeted at the needs of the independent specialty retailer. You can email us with questions and comments at

For more retail training support and know-how, be sure to check out the SNEWS® Business 101 tools and stories, including our 10-part Retail Merchandising Training series produced by SNEWS®, including a useful online calculator for performing the most common retail merchandising calculations -- free to All Access Subscribers.


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