This photo tells you all you need to know about one of Sydney’s great Christmas traditions – the David Jones Elizabeth Street store windows, and how they look this year under the retailer’s new South African owners, Woolworths.
It’s December 23, the CBD is packed with shoppers, and no one is stopping to look at the windows, which normally have people 2-and-3 deep, small noses pressed against the glass to witness the colour, carols and magic.
This year, they’re boring, dull and not particularly Christmassy. The normally crowded footpaths are empty.
The store has taken its “inspiration” from the colouring-in book craze, and seem to prioritised the commerce of Christmas over the spirit. The concept is meant to see the displays coloured in, but 24 hrs before the store closes, there’s still plenty of white in many of the windows.
Plenty of people had voiced their displeasure with the lacklustre decorations on social media.
Lisa Howard summed up the views of many when she wrote to DJs on its Facebook page:
Last month I turned 55 years of age. Therefore I have seen many Christmases. These Christmases included the visiting of David Jones and experiencing the wonder of their store windows. When I was a little girl, Christmas Day entailed reading the Christmas nativity story, opening of gifts, eating a simple Christmas meal and travelling to the city to view the David Jones Christmas store windows. When I met my husband, he informed me that his family’s tradition was also to view the store windows at Christmas time. So, needless to say, it was a very easy merge of traditions for us to include this on our Christmas ‘must do’ list for our family.
I am a mother of 4 and now a grandmother of 3 and again with great anticipation this year, our family ventured across to David Jones to view the Christmas windows. Excitedly, one of our sons prepped his brand new wife for her first time David Jones experience hoping that perhaps they might add this to the list of their Christmas traditions. Usually, each year, crowds of families stop, stand and view, but this year, there were no crowds and it was not difficult to understand why. When we arrived, we could not believe our eyes!!!
Not only were there no magical Christmas windows to be viewed, but there was an attempt at telling us that the story this year was about elves on an adventure through black and white caves, jungles and sea whilst David Jones’ products were being advertised in each setting.
It is very difficult to explain to a 3 year old why a certain advertised perfume bottle was perched on a toy train travelling around in circles or why colourless beehives moved up and down to reveal products that were hiding behind them. I wish I could have taken a photo of the disappointed looks on all the adults faces who were present, let alone the confused look from my grandchildren.
We passed other families and watched their faces and then their eyes met ours. As strangers, we all looked at each other and just shook our heads….not one word needed to be spoken.
I can only think of the quote from Miracle on 34th Street when a customer is directed by Santa to buy a product at the competing department store across the road…..this is what she said to the store manager…..
‘Imagine a big outfit like Macy’s…putting the spirit of Christmas ahead of the commercial. It’s wonderful. I have never done much shopping here before…but from now on, I’m going to be a regular Macy customer’.
I feel just like this customer. We need more businesses to place people ahead of greed. This year, David Jones, has placed the commercial ahead of the customer and that makes me think twice as to whether I would want to patronage your stores.
What a shame that you have screwed up the wonderful tradition that all of Sydney (and beyond) have long associated you with. This year was a fail!!
Here’s a reminder of just how magical the DJs decorations were back in 2013, the store’s 175th anniversary.
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