Just as well-designed department store lighting will boost sales, inappropriate lighting will reduce sales as dissatisfied customers purchase fewer items, spend less time shopping and seldom return to the store. It’s in your best interests to keep shoppers comfortable, engaged, satisfied with the experience, willing to make purchase decisions and happy to return in the future.
Image, Function and Target Market Dictate Lighting Choices
Department stores fall into the “middle-market” store category, which includes similar sized outlets, such as grocery superstores.
Department stores appeal to shoppers because of the wide range and choices of merchandise. The target market includes youth to old age and the expectation is that customers of any age can find a wide selection of food, fashion and lifestyle products at good prices.
Department store shoppers are usually techno-savvy. These shoppers are encouraged to browse at their own pace, and help is available if requested. Lighting can be lower than that of the big warehouse stores, but not as low as is customary in small specialty stores.
The Function Should Dictate the Choice
As in every retail outlet, it is important to make the right department store lighting choices for the ambient, or general lighting, for task lighting, and for effective accent lighting.
Ambient – Ambient lighting for a department store benefits by the use of vertical luminaries that produce uniform, warm white light. Recessed ceiling lights are ideal and can be used in conjunction with perimeter and valance lighting using a mix of uplights and downlights to produce soft shadows.
This diffused general light is an effective backdrop to the merchandise and provides an effective contrast to the accent lighting. Because good ambient lighting makes customers feel comfortable and safe, they will spend more time shopping.
Task – Task lighting should be suitable for various needs. In fitting room areas, it should be bright and warm to enhance skin tones, and lights should also be installed on both sides of mirrors to reduce unattractive shadows.
Cashier locations should have strong enough light to make financial transactions faster and easier, and work locations should be bright enough to ease business office tasks, as well as to facilitate the work of cleaning and stockroom staff.
Accent – Accent lighting should be cool, white light designed to catch the eye of customers with a brightness that is about five times greater than the ambient lighting (5:1).
For special, featured items, brightness should be ten times greater (10:1). To highlight the sparkle and glitter of jewelry and glassware, use 15:1 or even 30:1.
Colored lights are great for creating atmosphere. Blue is a favorite for men, pastels for women work great and purple is associated with luxury by everyone.
Keep Other Lighting Considerations in Mind
Pull out all the stops for store entrances and window displays with backgrounds of shadowy uplights and downlights and contrasting bright accent lights. When it is important for customers to evaluate the color, texture and design of merchandise, the ability of the light to show true colors—the color rendering index (CTI) —is important. The closer the index is to 100, the better it is.
The color temperature (CCT) is another factor. A high Kelvin (4,000K) is a cool light and great for hardware and metal items, and makes an area look sterile and spacious. A low Kelvin (3,000K) is inviting and natural and creates an impression of safety, intimacy, and comfort.
Shelves that are lower than eye level should be well lighted to draw attention to products that may be overlooked by shoppers. Replacing old, energy consuming lamps with LED (light emitting diode) lighting will save a great deal of money for department store owners over time.
Department store lighting should not be too light, too dark, have too much or too little contrast, or too much glare. Whether you are choosing ambient, task or accent lighting, the main goal is to enhance the shopping experience for your customers and keep them coming back for more.
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