THUNDER BAY – Can you find Christmas spirit online? In the ever more relentless struggle with online retailers to win over consumers, the traditional retail sector is increasingly exploiting its own characteristic strengths. While online shopping offers price, and convenience, it can’t really offer the personal touch or the lights, wonder and fellowship of the holiday season.
“The coming Christmas shopping season gives it a clear advantage. Real Christmas spirit cannot be found online!” explains Dr. Kersten Rosenau, founder of the Hamburg-based specialist Christmas decoration company First Christmas which operates worldwide.
To build on this potential advantage, the retail trade, especially in Europe are investing more money in Christmas decorations this year. “The shopping centres view spectacular Christmas decorations as their chance to be seen as ‘Christmas centres’, the place where you can experience Christmas like nowhere else!” Rosenau adds.
Just putting up some tinsel and a couple of stars is no longer enough. Expectations are growing.
The CityWalk Christmas tree, powered by the cheers from an enthusiastic audience, will illuminate in harmony to seasonal music and the pulsing lights from the venue’s five soaring 42 foot pillars. The effect will bask “5 Towers” in a brilliant glow of colors and lights, and act as a beacon to help guide Santa Claus from the North Pole to Southern California.
At the helm of this year’s holiday festivities, Universal CityWalk will introduce a hip and happening Elf whose unconventional wit and endearing charm will add a unique sense of holiday humor to the always unexpected destination. The spirit of the holidays will transcend throughout Universal CityWalk with garland, tinsel and mistletoe embellishments adorning the entire area. Visits from a Rock–n-Roll-themed Santa along with free concert performances and an eclectic array of talented street performers will make CityWalk a must-see, hipster holiday destination.
On weekends beginning Friday, November 23 and daily from December 10-23, CityWalk’s Rock-n-Roll-themed Santa Claus will visit with guests at the venue’s new Santa’s Village, located at the center of CityWalk. This snow covered landing, decked out with a customized “rock star” sleigh and filled to the brim with an assortment of musical instruments, will be elaborately decorated with moving lights. Snow will cascade every half hour for the ultimate white Christmas and an authentic Gibson guitar will be on hand for guests who wish to create a memorable holiday photo.
Rosenau gives accounts of 30 metre high illuminated trees; Westfield London Shopping Centre in London over in the United Kingdom. 120 kilo pine cones (Höfe am Brühl, Leipzig) and the biggest illuminated angels (Centrum Chodov, Prague) in the world. In 2012, many decorations are XXL in German shopping centres and, as the expert knows, this is also the case in most other European countries.
“We have been serving small, large and even ultra-large shopping malls for many years in locations such as Dubai, Milan, London and Moscow, and we have a particularly strong presence in Germany. This year, across all the countries, we can see a desire to make the Christmas decorations in shopping centres much more lavish than they were a few years ago.” reports Rosenau. Another trend is the combination of light, often including changes in colour, with music. There are computer-controlled star shows following the New York model, and 25 metre high trees made from balls of light, each one computer-controlled.
A one- to two-year planning period is not uncommon and decorating a centre often costs 500,000 euros or more. Nowadays it is the responsibility of highly specialised interior designers, set designers, theatre dramaturgs and event technicians, who create appropriate Christmas staging tailored to suit the building. “When the Christmas decorations in shopping centres are switched on, traditionally around the start of Advent, over 500 specialists will have carried out their work for our company alone, having professionally decorated more than 100 shopping centres. “Putting online retailers into a real sweat,” laughs Rosenau.