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Winter-ready window graphics

Photos courtesy Miller McConnell Signs

Photos courtesy Miller McConnell Signs

By Jodi Sawyer
In Canada, more often than not, the year’s busiest retail season coincides with some of the most challenging weather conditions. According to statistics collected by trade associations like the National Retail Federation (NRF), many retailers achieve a disproportionate 20 to 40 per cent of their overall annual sales in just a few weeks before and during the holiday season, when average temperatures often drop below 0 C (32 F) and winter precipitation falls in various treacherous forms. These short weeks—made shorter by fewer hours of daylight—can make or break a retail business. As such, there is all the more need to stand out and attract shoppers into stores by commissioning bright, colourful window graphics from sign shops.

This raises the quandary of how to keep the season bright during deep, dark winter, when holiday promotions rely heavily on window graphics. The impact of the seasonal weather must be taken into consideration before implementing any such advertising campaigns.

It is therefore important sign shops, print-service providers (PSPs) and media suppliers to collaborate with retailers from the initial stages of planning, well before the holidays, to ensure they have the right materials, the application surfaces are compatible and correctly prepared and the printed graphics will remain as vibrant toward the end of the promotional campaign as they are at the beginning.

Inside and out
As at other times of year, pressure-sensitive vinyl graphics for window advertising applications need to be easy to install and then stay adhered throughout a wide range of temperatures, resisting yellowing and fading, until they are just as easy to remove, leaving no residue behind. Additional factors to consider as winter approaches include the expected ambient and surface temperatures of the location and time of installation.

Another issue is to which side of the window the graphics will be applied—the inside or the outside surface. The decision will require consideration of durability, esthetics, local regulations and protective graphic finishing.

Ottawa-based Miller McConnell Signs prints and installs seasonal window graphics for Place d’Orléans, a local shopping mall, each fall and winter.

Ottawa-based Miller McConnell Signs prints and installs seasonal window graphics for Place d’Orléans, a local shopping mall, each fall and winter.

If a promotional campaign entails occasional window display graphic changes with new product visuals during its run, for example, then an indoor-surface application is probably the best-suited option, when weather conditions outdoors are not conducive to frequent changes. Perforated window graphic materials are designed for such indoor applications, with a 70/30 or 60/40 perforation ratio (i.e. printable area to see-through area) allowing the brand images to be viewed from outside, while also allowing people inside the store to see out through the windows.

Indoor window vinyl applications are advantageous in preventing vandalism and ensuring easy access to the graphics even when the window is not on the ground floor. Some retail locations are themselves not on the ground floor and need window graphics all the more to catch the attention of passersby across the street.

Also, some municipalities have imposed ordinances limiting the application of graphics on the outside surfaces of buildings. In these cases, the installer’s choice has already been made from the outset.

In areas where such ordinances do not apply, when a retailer wants window graphics to last an entire season without changes, outside installation may well be a feasible choice, thanks to materials that can withstand harsh winter weather (as long as they are installed properly, in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions).