Selling cheap impulse-buy items may be straightforward, but shifting upmarket homewares is a trickier proposition.

Selling cheap impulse-buy items may be straightforward, but shifting upmarket homewares is a trickier proposition.

Williams-Sonoma. Williams who? No, not an unlikely alliance between a singer de nos jours and the scion of a California winery perhaps, but a US purveyor of upmarket kitchen and homewares and pretty good too. Anybody who has been to the States and visited one of the big cities will be aware of this retailer’s ability to make you consider buying things that your really didn’t know you wanted. This is the IKEA of the well-to-do for whom dropping a few hundred on a lacquered food mixer bought on a whim really isn’t too much of an issue.

And even if you can’t afford the merchandise, you find yourself inspecting the offer principally owing to the standard of the visual merchandising. This is about as good as it gets, in a very all-American way and it does make the business of looking at new gadgets for peeling, roasting or mashing potatoes, for example, more interesting than you might at first think it would be.

Well, now it’s headed in our direction with the first store due to open on Tottenham Court Road, according to sources within the retail property sector and reported in this magazine last week. And TC Road would seem the most obvious place for the brand to make landfall and it should, in theory, make a decent fist of things. This is the thoroughfare that is central London’s homewares destination. A quick scoot along its length however reveals that times are tougher in this part of the retail spectrum than in many others.

The fact is that while we can all probably afford a cheap t-shirt, a posh coffee or perhaps a low-cost consumer electronics item, when it comes to forking out for designer bits and pieces for our homes, considered purchasing is the name of the game. This does make you pause for thought and wonder why in spite of London being a very attractive destination for retailers from across the globe, an upmarket homewares operator should think that now is the appropriate moment to effect a debut.

We will certainly all take a look when this one arrives and be wowed by the displays and the ingenuity of many of the implements and objets that are on offer. Yet whether shoppers will feel inclined to dig deep for what are among the most discretionary of purchases is likely to be a rather different matter. Also, why not Regent Street? Much more appropriate, albeit probably more costly.