What is an Island Display?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2019
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Island displays are physical presentations of merchandise that can be accessed from any direction. A display of this type is usually situated in an open area of a retail establishment, such as near the entry to the store or in one of the larger aisles. Many merchants make use of an island display to call attention to items that have just arrived, or are currently on sale. Generally, the items included in the display will be related in some manner, thus creating a more compelling presentation.

As a structure showing goods in the best possible position within the store, a carefully designed island display can be an effective selling tool. Unlike other types of displays, which provide views from one to three sides, the merchandise exhibit using the island presentation concept must be visually appealing from all directions. When executed properly, consumers are attracted to the display, and are more likely to linger longer than with a simple shelf display. Since catching and holding the attention of consumers is essential to making sales, the island display increases the chances of selling merchandise that would otherwise go unnoticed on store shelves.


Choosing a location for an island display depends largely on the flow of traffic through the store. Merchants sometimes choose to position the display in the main aisle, near the entrance to the store. In many layouts, the aisle in this area is wider than other aisles that branch into different departments. This is important, since consumers should be able to move around the display with relative ease, as well as be able to stop and inspect the items included in the presentation without blocking the space for other customers.

Large discount retail stores sometimes utilize an island display near the checkout lanes. Doing so can sometimes increase impulse buying among customers who are waiting to pay for their purchases. As they wait, the nearby display catches their attention, and they are much more likely to select one or more items before the line advances any further. With this application, the display is likely to feature merchandise that is somewhat ordinary, but used regularly by consumers.

An island display can make use of all sorts of designs in order to create the right look for the merchandise. Mannequins may be incorporated with furniture, creating a visual presentation that allows consumers to envision the furniture in their own homes. Mannequins can also be paired with sports gear, equipment, and clothing, thus providing consumers with an idea of what they need in order to participate in various sporting events. Even food items can be arranged in an island display that is both practical and visually appealing, such as a Halloween display that includes candy, costumes, and party favors.


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