High Street Hit or Miss

A visit to Grand Central Birmingham placed thought for this seasons must haves.  Grand central stores were scored specifically based on their autumn 16 trends, offers, and in-store experience including customer service and store designs.  Points for value considered the quality of the products compared to the price.   

John Lewis

Product 9   John Lewis is a store that’s very brands based with a good variety of day to night clothing and accessories.  There were lots of prints as well as a lot of knitwear and fur which could be due to the coming of winter and the changing of seasons.  These looks are aimed at an older market because the clothing ranges seem to be more sophisticated.  Although, the looks are still on trend and therefore also appeal to a younger market as well.  John Lewis offers a higher end fashionable look that promotes good quality fabrics and well made products.  It was evident there was some modern merchandising, that highlighted lots of space on the shop floor to move around as well as having a good flow through brands to accessories and clear displays of where to find what you wanted.  Garments were grouped into brands firstly and then arranged into colours.

Value 7   The price of products was mostly expensive but the products on offer were of a good high quality which could be more attractive to the customer as they are paying for what they get.  There are not many bargains to be had, there were some reduced to clear sections but the prices were still quite similar to the original cost of the piece.  Currently visiting the store there are no promotional offers right now, however previously there have been offers in store and there is likely to be more in the future.  The price points in this shop fits with the target market, being aimed at an older market they will have more money to spend purchasing a product compared to a much younger generation.  Although the price seems about right some of the pieces in store belonging to particular brands could be viewed as too highly priced for what it is deterring customers away from buying specific products.

Experience 9   There was a good store fit, the overall look was very modern which could appeal to the target market as well as a much wider market.  The window display is currently Christmas themed due to the time of year, with lights in the window which make the display more eye catching to the viewer.  There was lots of white, a good range of products clearly displayed in the window, with a combination of neutral colours which can appeal to everyone.  The window displays match the entrance of the shop which really helps to open up the shop and invite the customer inside.  The layout made it easy to navigate around the shop floor especially with having more space to move around the clothing sections.  The merchandising worked well as it appeals to a wider market while the current trends are clearly displayed.  Signage in the shop was not that clear so it was difficult to find the changing rooms and the cash desks.  Having said that, there was information hanging on rails that provided insight into the designers or the brand which created a more personal shopping experience because the customer could feel a connection with the designer or brand.  The cash desks fitted in with the store set up and layout, there were a few placed around the shop floor in different sections of the shop.  The changing rooms were big and spacious as well as being light and bright making them ideal for trying on clothes.  Ambience was created in store by using darker lighting on the shop floor to creating a calming and relaxing shopping experience that is less intimidating.  Whereas, the changing rooms had really bright lighting which is beneficial when it comes to trying on clothes.  All the displays were really neat and tidy making the brands look more luxurious, because they were well presented it makes them look more expensive which fits the value of the product and makes the target market more willing to buy the products.  The staff were really welcoming, friendly, happy to help and provides honest advice which ultimately improves the shopping experience for the customer.


Product 5   The key looks on offer are British, heritage, country and riding styles which the brand is known for.  Typical fabrics and patterns used by the brand are; tweed, quilting, floral, knit and animal prints.  These looks are aimed at an upper class, middle-aged target market, who is more likely to be able to afford the products.  There are no current trends displayed, Joules tend to keep to their own trends and style within the brand which encourages a repeat of styles throughout the seasons.  On the shop floor, some of the clothes are grouped into types, some are grouped into colours and some are part of the outer wear section.  There is no clear divide between the different sections of the store whether it be men’s to ladies or ladies to girls.

Value 6   The price of products seem to be overly expensive for what it is, the customer could easily find something just as good at a cheaper price in a different retailer but with Joules they are paying for the brand name.  The products seem to be of a good quality which makes them more long wearing which would appeal more to the target market.  There weren’t really any bargains to be had, they only have sales occasionally.  They sometimes do promotional offers in store or online but generally not very often.  Even though the rice of products seems to be expensive they could easily charge more because of the upper class customer they attract but they probably charge less to try to appeal to a wider market.

Experience 5   The layout was reasonable due to quite a lot of open space without the shop floor being too overcrowded.  In the window display there were lots of dark colours, mostly purple, and didn’t really showcase anything particularly special or new making the display as a whole look quite empty and old fashioned.  There wasn’t really any visual merchandising throughout the store making it difficult to clearly see what products the store had to offer.  The only sign throughout the store was for the changing rooms as the cash desk was in the centre of the shop and clear for the customer to see.  The changing rooms were too small, not very private and there wasn’t really enough of them.  This could be partly because one of the changing rooms was being used for storage which is a waste of space and an annoyance for customers having to wait around for changing rooms to become empty.  Ambience was created through yellow lighting on the shop floor, which fits with the style of the brand however, it is not the best light for a good shopping experience and for viewing products clearly.  The shop floor was tidy although, some of the shelves looked overfilled making it look messier.  There were shoeboxes on chairs outside the changing rooms making the overall look of the shop untidy and uninviting for customers as well as the changing rooms being unclean.  None of the staff tried to interact with us on the shop floor, and there was no one in the changing room to provide any help or advice if it was needed by a customer.  The service at the cash desk looked better when they were serving other customers it’s just a shame everybody else was ignored.

Accessorize & Monsoon

Product 8   The key looks on offer here are more occasion wear based, because that’s what the brands are best at.  There is an interesting use of surface pattern on garments and accessories as well as a good use of seasonal colours.  Monsoon tends to attract an older customer whereas, Accessorize tends to attract a younger customer so the brands work well together to encourage the different target markets to mix and explore both parts of the brands.  The dress length in Monsoon appeals to the older generation because it is more dignified and flattering as well as possibly being considered more ‘socially acceptable’.  However, some bolder prints and styles attract younger generations.  Accessorize combine current colours and fabrics with what they already know by using the same products they always have but just with the new trends.  Monsoon works in a different way by showcasing very current styles, colours and cut of garments.  The merchandising in Monsoon is much better, there is lots of room to navigate around the shop floor so the different items are accessible to see for all types of customers.  Also there are some really inspiring displays using current products from the brand which will create more interest with the customer.  Accessorize has poor merchandising, there is always too much product in a very small space making it very difficult to move around with ease in the store as well as being able to see products clearly.  Garments in Monsoon are grouped in occasions and colours making it easy to find what you need especially by having more casual items at the front of the store through to more formal clothing.  With the more casual clothing being at the front it attracts more people into the shop because it addresses a wider mix of people whereas, formal attire doesn’t always appeal to everyone and it is not a necessity.  The products in Accessorize are grouped into product type which makes products easier to locate also, there are some use of colours but not much.

Value 7   The price is reasonable in both parts of the brand, and shows a competitive price compared with the rest of the market for good quality products.  The products are all of a good quality which is evident in the feel of the garments and the finishing touches to products especially the beaded dresses in Monsoon that are still really light weight and probably easy-wearing.  There were no current offers in store but we can assume the brand do promotional or seasonal offers or sales.  The price for the customer in Accessorize is good but maybe if aimed at a younger customer it could be too much however they are probably less bothered or worried by the cost.  Monsoon products are of a reasonable price for the market as the price reflects the quality which appeals to everyone.

Experience 8   Monsoon had a good store fit, it was easy to move around as it was quite spacious compared to Accessorize where there were too many stands, the small space was overcrowded and it was not very easy to move around as well as it not being very user friendly for all types of customer.  The neon signs in the front of Accessorize looked tacky and ill-fitting with the rest of the store which isn’t exciting for the customer which is the opposite to the Monsoon window which looked more festive with the glitter leaves as decoration however, it didn’t look like there was anything new, trendy, or even slightly inviting in the window display which is disappointing because of all the fantastic things they have in store.  Accessorize did not have much merchandising throughout the store although it seemed Monsoon almost predict what they assume will be the most popular products to showcase on the mannequins.  The mannequins were positioned next to the clothes rails showcasing the same clothes which was more helpful for the customer.  There wasn’t really any signs within the store but it probably worked more with the store to keep it to a high end feel to it.  The cash desks in Accessorize were not clear, there was too many and with them being mixed in with the products it doesn’t really work that well for the customer.  Monsoon has the cash desk next to the fitting room which works really well and is a logical concept assuming customers buy what they have tried on.  The changing rooms were a bohemian, Moroccan style with calming, relaxing colours and prints to make the shopping experience more enjoyable even when it may get stressful.  Ambience in Monsoon was created through low level lighting on the shop floor which makes for a more intimate shopping experience.  There was soft, clear lighting in the changing rooms so it was easy to see products clearly when trying on.  Monsoon was tidy and clean whereas Accessorize felt messy even when it was clean because it was overcrowded making the customer feel overwhelmed and maybe even consider leaving the shop.  The staff were good in the changing rooms and chatty adding to a friendly atmosphere however after trying something on there were no members of staff at the changing rooms clearly being fixated by whatever was happening on the shop floor and therefore neglecting the customers in the changing rooms.


Product 6   In Select there were some up to date trends on offer such as; sportswear, yeezy fashion, nightclub trends, basics and winter colours.  The target market is a young generation and could also be aimed at students.  There was a variety of styles and trends within the store which would appeal to the customer.  In terms of merchandising there wasn’t really any, there was only a couple of mannequins that were near the cash desk mainly just in the way.  Products were randomly grouped in terms of clothing, there was no clear divide between trends, colours or styles.

Value 7   The price points of products were affordable and cheap as the products are low quality but still wearable for the typical market.  It was evident around the shop floor there were many bargains to be had, there were discounts and sales in majority of the store they also offer student discount.  The price range is good and relevant for the target market as it is more aimed at younger people and they can afford less compared to a more mature customer.

Experience 5   The store fit wasn’t great, it was a little overcrowded, you couldn’t really see what was in the store because of all the sale rails in the doorway of the shop.  There was a clear view of some current trends in the window such as sportswear but what let It down was that it wasn’t very eye catching and more just boring.  Movement in the shop was difficult because there was too much in there, which also made finding specific things harder.  Visual merchandising was poor there wasn’t really anything on the shop floor, which is where they could improve to sell the product to the customer.  Signage was poor there was a fitting room sign which was flat against a wall so it was not easily noticed when standing in different places around the shop this could have been more obvious.  The cash desk was cluttered with various things but it was easy to see and it fitted in well with the rest of the shop.  Changing rooms were many but needed a refit they were looking more dated which was making it look unclean although the lighting was good.  There wasn’t really any ambience because the shop is all white and kept very plain which doesn’t inspire or create a unique shopping experience for the customer.  The overall tidiness and cleanliness of the shop was not good the shop floor was messy and the changing rooms looked grubby.  When it comes to the staff there was no interaction in the changing room, they’re not very good at communicating.  The store assistant left the changing rooms while trying on which would have proved very difficult if needing other sizes or advice as well as other store assistants being rude if not blunt on the till almost reluctant to carrying out a sale.

Holly x






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