The best retail lighting solutions satisfy human needs by attracting customers and providing a comfortable, safe shopping experience while enabling staff to perform their tasks; meet architectural design needs for complementary, effective lighting; and deal successfully with environmental and economic needs regarding installation, maintenance and energy costs.
Customers and Staff Need Effective Lighting Systems
Your retail outlet, whether it is an upscale boutique, a discount warehouse or a family grocery store, must satisfy the needs of your customers and staff:
- Comfort – Lighting must attract consumers with appropriate outdoor lighting, signage, and eye-catching window displays; enable customers to move easily and comfortably through the store; and be appropriate to the type of store and the demographic to which you are appealing as part of your retail image and sales strategy.
- Visibility – A variety of lighting styles will help guide consumers to various areas of the store and draw attention to specialty or featured items. It will also allow them to examine and assess the merchandise in order to make purchasing decisions.
- Task Performance – There must be sufficient illumination for customers to read price tags and instructions—care or cooking—easily view products inside display cases, and assess the quality and true colors of the products. The system should provide well-lit change rooms, cashier sites, offices, public restrooms, and stockrooms, and there must also be sufficient lighting for cleaning staff.
- Safety – It is important to have appropriate lighting to make the retail property safe, both indoors and out, with well-illuminated parking lots and walkways, stairs, uneven floors, and exit signs.
Architectural Designs Impose Lighting Requirements
Lighting must be appropriate for the building and room designs:
- Warehouse, large discount and supermarket outlets have high ceilings and large rooms that require bright vertical lights. Such large rooms also require good signage to allow shoppers to find their way around the store, lead them to the departments and products for which they are searching, with special lighting for display cases and featured items. In general, lighting should be bright and support an efficient shopping experience for the customer.
- Medium-sized stores have lower ceilings and can use less bright lights and more accent lighting.
- Small specialty stores that attract upscale shoppers or the youth market should use decorative, theatrical uplights, downlights, colored lights, and small spotlights to emphasize either the quality or the uniqueness, or both, of the products.
- Old brick or stone buildings are not limited to old-fashioned fixtures. The contrast between old, traditional buildings and contemporary lighting fixtures and showcases can be very striking and dramatic.
Three types of lighting are needed in every store:
- Ambient lighting is the general, diffused light required for cashier sites, change rooms, large rooms/areas and large stores. The bigger the store, the brighter and more intensive the ambient lighting should be.
- Local or accent lighting is used to draw attention to featured displays, specialty items, and to exhibit display case contents. Good local lighting is important when texture and true colors are important factors in purchasing decisions.
- Decorative lighting uses colored, warm or cool uplights, downlights and specialty lights for window displays to attract customers, and these are very popular in small boutiques and upscale lifestyle, jewelry and clothing stores. Decorative lighting is also used to draw in the youth crowd.
Environmental and Economic Concerns Must be Satisfied
Since the highest electrical cost for retailers is the lighting system, upgrading to an efficient system saves a lot of money and saves the environment.
Fixtures, lamps, and your entire retail lighting system should maximize energy efficiency and environmental friendliness. You can replace outdated fixtures and incandescent lamps with compact fluorescent lighting (CFL) and—even better—with energy-efficient light emitting diode (LED) lamps and fixtures. There are still some tax credits and energy rebate programs to help with the upgrade costs if you act quickly.
As energy costs rise, an energy-efficient lighting system will save you a lot of money. The initial outlay of switching to CFL and LED lighting is usually recouped within two to five years. The ongoing cost of electricity is seriously reduced by these upgraded lighting systems, and further enhanced with the installation of dimmers, timers, and photo sensors.
The impact on your bottom line with an energy-saving lighting system must also be sustainable. Not only should your investment in an upgraded lighting system be recouped through a reduced use of electricity, the system should be economical to maintain. Fortunately, CFLs have a much longer lifespan than incandescent lamps, and LED’s have an unbeatable lifespan. An upgraded system means the cost of replacing and installing lamps will drop dramatically, and is an important cost savings to every retailer.
Good retail lighting solutions will consider human needs, architectural design requirements, and will satisfy environmental and economic concerns. Don’t be left behind.
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