12 February 2021

Whether on the shelf, in an aisle or hanging decoratively for a seasonal campaign, display materials will all have a different lifespan in the in-store environment.

Both temporary and permanent displays have their favoured materials, but just how do you know which one is right for you and the retail campaign that your planning?

Retail planners, like you, have their desired boxes to tick, such as floor-appeal, stockholding or seasonal décor, but who can you rely on to give you the honest answers when it comes to which materials will serve you and your design the best.

The truth is, it’s not all about the material, there are many factors that will impact how long a retail display will last, such as people traffic, inquisitive kids and uncontrollable trollies to name a few. In this article we home in on the different materials to give you a guide on what materials are best suited for which types of displays and just how long you can expect them to last.

Let’s talk materials…

You can very quickly create a shortlist of materials when you know exactly how long you need your display to last. For example, for a short-term promotion that will only last for a couple of months or so, then cardboard could be a great option. Whereas if you need it to last a bit longer, then you’ll need to use something that is a bit more hardwearing.  


Cardboard retail displays are typically used for short-term campaigns that will last a matter of weeks in-store such as product launches, seasonal events and promotions.

Often designed for customers to shop from themselves, cardboard displays are usually positioned in high shopper traffic areas like the seasonal aisle in your supermarket or on the counter by the till so will start to show signs of wear and tear over a relatively short period of time.

There are different specifications of cardboard available dependant on how strong your retail display needs to be, your manufacturer should advise you on which cardboard spec is the best for your display. For example, thicker corrugated card for heavier stockholding.

You can also add an extra element of strength to a cardboard display by applying a layer of lamination to the surface – usually applied after a promotional message or image has been printed to the material surface. The added bonus of this is it can prevent light scuffs, knocks or scratches from being visible – quite handy in those unruly trolley supermarket environments!

Summary: Short term retail campaigns up to two months in store.

cardboard retail displays


Foamex is an extremely versatile PVC foam board that is a popular choice for creating retail displays. As a more robust material than cardboard, Foamex will last longer in-store and can be expected to last an impressive 6-12 months.

The great thing about Foamex is it can be used in conjunction with other display materials, allowing retail designers get pretty creative.

Incorporating other, more hardwearing materials can also increase the lifespan of your display, but that really depends the design and manufacturing required. The key to ensuring the longest lifespan possible is to work with a proven retail design specialist, they’ll have a track record when it comes to combining different materials to create a display.

Summary: 6-12 months, but maybe more in conjunction with other materials.

Foamex retail displays


A really popular choice when creating retail displays. Acrylic comes in so many colours and styles that designers literally buzz when the opportunity get the acrylic swatches out arises.

Vanity aside, acrylic is also pretty tough, much tougher than cardboard and Foamex. Acrylic ticks lots of boxes for retail designers and store planners as it will last in store for a significant period of time.

There is an important thing to point out though, acrylic can be very delicate. It knows it’s worth, so expects to be handled with care when manufacturing displays. The good news is your manufacturer should know this, just make sure you’re working with a display expert!

Summary: Potentially up 1-3 years


An aluminium composite sheet that is specially optimised for display. This material can create absolutely stunning results, its ultra-smooth finish and uber strong and stable properties make it a top contender for longer term retail display.

Even though Dibond is lightweight, it should not be underestimated. Offering high rigidity and perfectly flat finish makes printed artwork direct to its surface incredibly crisp and clear. Adding a laminate on top will also make it last and look like new for longer, protecting it from scrapes and scratches.

Summary: Potentially up to 5 years


Probably the strongest and most expensive of them all, metal, when manufactured well, can stay in ultra-condition for many years.

The trick with this material is to work with a manufacturer who understands how the material can work for you, by getting to grips with the retail environment and its shoppers.

Summary: With clever design, a lifetime!

Sustainability is a hot topic right now, but what does it mean for retail display?

Out with the old and in with the new… but not when it comes to retail display. Sustainability is really hot topic. Consumer trends and demand has led many brands and retailers to move away from the throw-away culture and look for new, innovative ways to be more sustainable in store.

Maybe that means investing in a more permanent retail solution that can be redressed, rebranded and restocked for different campaigns? Many retailers are already taking this approach.

Some are creating really hardwearing temporary displays using the most robust temporary materials so they last an entire season and not just the two months of typical short-term display. Whereas others are investing in a modular metal kit of parts that can be reconfigured to create unique displays for each campaign but using the same parts.

With clever design, retail displays can be created with longevity in mind, ticking the ‘green-friendly’ box and also keeping brands, retails and consumers happy.

Ready to talk to a retail design specialist?

We’ve been helping brands and retailers create meaningful retail display for years and would be happy to chat you through the different materials to find the perfect solution.

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Contact our team today on info@threepd.co.uk or 01530 839777

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