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Holiday Windows Are Back. And So Are New York Shoppers.

  • November 25, 2021

Fifth Avenue was closed to traffic and crowds lined police barricades. But despite the pyrotechnics, the lavish tradition of handcrafted holiday windows, which have been attracting shoppers to midtown Manhattan for the last century, is waning.

Lord Taylor, Barneys New York and Henri Bendel, once destinations for their ornate displays, have shut their flagships in recent years. Today only a handful of department stores in New York City — Saks, Bergdorf Goodman, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s — are producing elaborate traditional window displays. (Instead of holiday windows, Nordstrom will cover the store’s 57th Street location with 50 miles of lights, 150 trees and seven 11-foot-tall Nutcrackers.)

“It is so sad when another of our competitors closes; it makes us have to work that much harder,” said John Klimkowski, the senior director of visual merchandising at Bloomingdale’s, who has been overseeing window design at the retailer for a decade. With less to see, he added, “ours have to be even more memorable.”

Macy’s is credited with bringing holiday windows to New York City in 1874, with an extravagant display on 34th Street in Herald Square. Over the years, now-shuttered stores along Fifth Avenue competed in a creative arms race to outshine one another with eye-popping installations that drew crowds and inspired family traditions.

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