Back in 2003, a lot of people took off their clothes and lay down in Selfridges’ beauty hall. Pictures were taken and Spencer Tunick, the artist and overseer of this mass strip, had another notch on his camera.

Now a Woolworths store in Melbourne, Australia, is getting the Tunick treatment for an hour, when another image featuring a horde of naked people will be created on the car park roof.

That’s the wonder of Woolworths, perhaps, but after an initial hiatus (in which Woolworths said conducting a mass event of this kind would be disruptive on a Saturday), the management has seen its potential both as a crowd-puller andsource of publicity that it might not otherwise enjoy.

This might not be an ‘experience’ in which everybody would wish to take part, but it is apparently oversubscribed, and a trawl online this morning revealed the fact that news of what is due to happen has travelled far and wide.

Whether this is because it’s Spencer Tunick or because a lot of people are getting naked is a moot point, but it’s hard not to wonder whether getting back to basics in this manner might not be the best way of adding life to a flagging enterprise and getting shoppers through the door.

Setting the stage

Far from being disruptive, it could be a good idea to stage something beyond high street norms in order to draw the crowds. The question is what?

How about a music festival on the ground floor of New Look on Oxford Street, or maybe get Tunick to take his clothes off in the women’s fashion department of Jenners in Edinburgh – surrounded by a crowd of phone-toting fans?

“Here’s a challenge: how many things might be possible in a store that haven’t been done before?”

Both would attract attention and might even get people to look at stores that are under pressure in a new way. These are temporary solutions to the matter of increasing footfall but once people are inside, sales will probably result.

Few things, of course, will beat a crowd of nudists, but here’s a challenge: how many things might be possible in a store that haven’t been done before?

The fact that Tunick’s installations continue to attract attention is testimony to the enduring power of naked flesh, but is there anything else that might be a shot in the arm for retailers bemoaning signally empty high streets?