Everyone in retail is facing the question of how to maintain and also grow retail revenue in these uncertain times. In particular, our Charity Retail customers are constantly looking for new ways to generate and conserve income streams to support the great work they do.

There are some really innovative ideas coming to light turning the challenges of the new retail environment into a positive and winning experience as well as a great shopping experience for customers.  We thought we’d share some ideas for you to build upon and find ways to grow in the new normal.

Growing footfall in the new normal

The first thought with the new Social Distancing guidelines is the lack of footfall into the stores.  But there are real positives to this!  Less customers means you can really concentrate on those customers. Don’t ‘oversell’ but just take an interest, and make them feel wanted and valued.  Remember pieces of information they share with you and  make sure you ask about it next time they visit. Done sensitively, customers will really value this interest.

Shift style shopping

Another way to give your customers a real “boutique” shopping time is to extend opening hours by an hour or two with a shift arrangement.  You could offer customers to ‘book’ a shopping time early or late.  This would enable those that are currently working to visit the high street in the evening. Remember, if you’re one of the only shops who offers a unique and flexible experience, they will remember you and are much more likely to return!

Shifting Talent

It may be an obvious statement, but could you manage with less staff on the shop floor? It’s not just a case of making redundancies, but rather shifting talent across multiple stores, or even into a different area of the business whose capacity is stretched.  Why not ask your staff if there is another area in the business that they’ve always fancied joining, you may never know what will come out of the woodwork

Rewarding Retail

Your regular customers are the ones who will shout about your brand on social media and share positive vibes about the work you’re doing.  Reward them well and what better way to do this by offering VIP incentives?  These could be something like offering 3 for 2 or 10% off over £XX spend.  You could offer them the incentive with the condition that they visit at a ‘quiet time’ :)

Inspiring window displays

Make your customers want to step through your doors by improving your visual merchandising in your window displays!  It would be great to make your windows relevant to today’s world, so think Rainbows, NHS support, and share inspirational messages of hope!

Vertical Merchandising

Encourage link sales by utilising vertical merchandising!  Why not place colour coordinating shoes on top of your gondolas, or have floor to ceiling displays of items like cushions, throws & linen, or cutlery, tea cups & serve ware?  If they are looking for that item that will finish their collection, it’s likely they may be tempted to buy more than one!

Christmas comes early

RSPCA Christmas Window Display

RSPCA Christmas Window Display, one of our winners from our 2019 Charity Window Competition

Why not encourage customers to do a bit of early Christmas shopping now, while the shops are quiet?  You could play on the fact that there will be greater choice, and they won’t suffer from inflated pricing, especially during this economic hardship.  It will also help them to spread the costs across months instead of major outlay during the last few months of the year.

The pavement is your playground

Could you (space permitting) play with some creative ideas on the area outside your shop?  Think A frames, chalkboards, pavement signs, or maybe some stickers to draw the eye to your store front?  The pavement is your playground.  Make it an extension of your visual merchandising display! And a safe place for social distancing too!

Remember to make the most of free resources too to get hints and tips on how to create exciting displays  that are topical or on trend. Check out these visual merchandising guides you can find here.

Hopefully this has planted some seeds of imagination which you can adapt & use in your particular circumstances. Put one or two of these into practice & you will almost certainly find that your average transaction value will increase to offset the reduction in customer density.

And best of luck with the new normal!

Get in touch to find out more

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It’s the most important 3 months in the retail calendar, the golden quarter – your most lucrative time of year. Buying customers through the door of your shop in the run up to Christmas is crucial for your Charity in terms of raising much needed funds for the next year ahead. How your window looks will have the greatest impact on reaching your sales targets. Visual merchandising has never been so important and if your charity has attended one of our training days,  you already know what a difference it can make. We would love to see you put that training into practice as we’re on the search for the best dressed charity window of 2019!

#acopiabestdressed this Christmas!

Eden Valley's Light Up A Life Window

Eden Valley’s Light Up A Life Window

We want to recognise the amazing work by staff and volunteers that goes into planning Charity Christmas window displays right across the UK. It’s important to tell your story especially during the festive season, whilst having to work on a tight budget no doubt!! Making the most of donated items as well as bringing imagination and creativity to your shop windows with your Christmas themes isn’t easy. Yet we were overwhelmed with entries last year and so impressed and  the ingenious ways in which you all brought Christmas to life. Who can forget Cats Protection’s “live” window of Santa’s knitting!

Do you also remember our stunning winning window from Devon Air Ambulance Trust scooped the top prize with their amazing entry submitted by Kim Veasey and the team at the Dartmouth Vintage shop? Second prize went to Kathy Fisher and the team at Eden Valley Hospice with their beautiful ‘Light Up A Life’ window. We had so many incredible entries, we had to increase the number of prizes! These went to: St Barnabas in Uckfield, Action Cancer in Coleraine, Rennie Grove in Berkhamstead, Age Concern in Leyland, Barnardo’s Vintage, Branching Out, Children’s Society in Shirley, Cat’s Protection in Bridlington, Shelter in Bromwich, Childern’s Society Shoreham On Sea, St Helena Colchester, Support Dogs Grassington, Children’s Society Ashington, and Children’s Society St Albans. We really hope you all enter again this year!

The People’s Vote!

Cat's Protection Knitting Santa!

Cat’s Protection Knitting Santa!

For 2019, we are adding a new component to the competition with a People’s Vote. We will still be looking for our top three best charity windows, but we will also be giving you an additional opportunity to win another fabulous prize for your shop, as voted by your local community! It’s a lovely way for your customers to get involved this Christmas.

Competition entry opens on the 16th of October and full details will be available on the day so watch this space! Follow our hashtag #acopiabestdressed and make sure you’re ready! If you enter early, your shop will have more time to accrue the People’s Vote!

It’s your chance to shine this golden quarter and we can’t wait to see what you all come up with this year!

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We’re looking for the best dressed charity Christmas window of 2018! It’s your opportunity to win £250 of visual merchandising equipment for your store.

As you know, your shop window has the greatest influence in attracting shoppers into your shop so you will have been busy planning your display to make the most of November and December to raise as much money as possible for your cause.

Open to all UK charities and hospices, we would love to see how innovative and ingenious you have been in creating your festive themed windows for 2018.

Charity Christmas Window

This will be your busiest and no doubt the most lucrative time of the year for your shop. You will be competing hard against other big brands on the high street who have considerably larger budgets.  Your shop window will play a massive part in encouraging footfall and inspiring people to come inside. Challenging pre-conceptions of charity shops will also be high on your agenda and Christmas is the perfect opportunity to reach a new demographic for example.

Competition details!

In the judging, we will pay special attention to:

  1. Innovative use of recycling and re-purposing items as props to display your donated products
  2. How your window tells a story
  3. Use of colour

Our winner will receive £250 to spend on Visual Merchandising equipment from Acopia for your store:

Crates and Christmas decorations

Looking festive!

Display ladder

From our Street 76 range

Collection of coloured wooden crates

Great for display!









Female mannequin christmas shop display

Chestnut Tree House Christmas Window

To enter our competition – just send an email letting us know all about the idea behind your theme this year and include up to 5 photographs of your shop window to [email protected] Please submit your entry to us by 12th December 2018.

Our very own Visual Merchandising Trainer, Karen Murray (who has worked with brands such as Selfridges, Marks and Spencer, Gap) will select the winner who will be announced on the 20th of December.

If you would like to take your Visual Merchandising to the next level in 2019, why not get in touch with us at [email protected] to find out more about our FREE training day!

We know you’ll be excited to get involved so please feel free to share and tag your entries with  #acopiabestdressed

Good luck and we look forward to seeing your photographs!

If you would like to find out about your local Visual Merchandising Training with Acopia – get in touch here:

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    Main Image: British Red Cross


    You may have been following progress on our latest shop-fit in Redhill for our client St Catherine’s Hospice. The 27th of April was the culmination of months of hard work and planning, the new shop in Redhill opened its doors to the community for the first time. Acopia had been involved right from the start with the fit-out from an initial site survey – all the way through to the finishing touches a few days before opening. The shop looked immaculate for the open day!

    This was quite an extensive renovation and our Fit-Out team were on site for a few weeks. The team started by removing the existing shop furnishings and counters, as well as removing walls and flooring. The vision was to create a bright, bold and airy environment with lots of space for customers to move easily around the shop. It was key the look remained uncluttered with products displayed on smart and modern fittings.

    Renovation in progress!

    Renovation in progress!

    Delicious St Catherine's Hospice cupcakes - we had a few of those!

    Delicious St Catherine’s Hospice cupcakes – we had a few of those!

    The wonderful team at Redhill

    The wonderful team at Redhill

    The shop started to take shape with new spaces created such as a new modern kitchen bespoke donation sorting area. New flooring was laid, new walls installed and new electrics run. We then highlighted some of the walls with St Catherine’s Hospice trademark brand colour – their wonderful bright and cheerful orange. We installed a modern twin slot system which worked very well in the space and with the diverse nature of donated products.

    Wayne Stepney, Retail Manager at St Catherine's Hospice with Acopian Account Director Keith Gilbert.

    Wayne Stepney, Retail Manager at St Catherine’s Hospice, with Acopian Account Director Keith Gilbert.

    The first transaction through the till!

    The first transaction through the till!

    With eager customers waiting outside, the doors opened and the shop was was inundated with shoppers keen to support their local hospice. There was a queue at the till within minutes which was a very proud moment for Wayne Stepney, Retail Development Manager, and his team to see after the long months of planning.

    Acopia were thrilled to not only complete the shop-fit but to also be invited to the opening itself. We are delighted to hear that the shop had a very successful first weekend. We know from our clients that our shop fits deliver great return on investment and we shall be returning very soon to catch up with the wonderful team at Redhill.

    If you would like to talk to us about your next shop-fit, just call us on 0845 075 6111 and we would be delighted to chat to you.


    Our goal at Acopia has always been to look at procurement and process from our client’s side of the table and how we can establish meaningful partnerships that allow us to support their growth and return on investment. Looking to add value and constantly anticipate our customer’s needs really sets us apart. When focusing on the Charity Retail Sector, we felt that by introducing some free support would really help shops gain traction in their communities. Providing a working knowledge of Visual Merchandising could really help to transform retail spaces to encourage more footfall and purchases.

    Getting it right

    We are very lucky to be invited to the Hospice UK Retail Steering Group to launch the idea and gain feedback from the group to help tailor the training. It was important to us that the training was to be relevant, provide solutions – as well as being enjoyable! The idea was greeted very enthusiastically by the group and we were delighted to be able to provide a much needed service and collaborative support.

    The training was held at our Head Office in sunny Bognor Regis! We had representatives from 8 Charities attend the training which examined the principles of Visual Merchandising such as how to create an impactful window, thinking about the customer journey around the store, positioning products for impulse purchases, space planning, colour blocking – and loads more! It was also a great networking opportunity as attendees were able to discuss and swap new ideas with fellow charities.

    Our group were keen to explore how the basic principles could be applied to their own retail spaces and were able to take time with our trainer to discuss specific in-store challenges and look at planning their space better.

    Learning into practice

    Pic 2

    Well dressed mannequins!

    Pic 3

    The winning table top display! Tables from our Street 76 display Range

    Pic 4

    Our Street 76 Display Ladder









    The afternoon was dedicated to putting it all into practice! The group had lots fun diving into our products from our Street 76 display range and the props (all from local charities!) to create table top displays and dress mannequins. We were keen to replicate the typical products that Charities receive everyday and learn to understand how to make the most of donated product. We rounded off the day with a competition for the best dressed mannequin and display!

    We had some great feedback from the day:

    “Relevant content and inspirational ideas”  “Great energy from the presenter”  “I have learnt a lot and have some great ideas to take back to our stores”

    If you like the sound of some learning more about Visual Merchandising and what benefits this could bring to your Charity retail estate – please just get in touch. We’d love to hear from you and help you to achieve more from your stores!

    Call Jake Elkins on 0845 075 6111 for more information and details on our next FREE course.