Increasing Retail Sales with Lighting

a guest post by Lisa J. Reed, Lighting Designer

Lighting Blog 16 - Retail

Did you know that if you have twice as much light from one place to the next your eye can’t even perceive the difference? Did you know that most people don’t notice a difference until there is about three times the amount of light from one place to another?

So if you want to pump up the light on a display or attract attention in retail, you’ll have to be bold. In fact, the current IES Handbook recommends that you strategically highlight about 25% of the merchandise in a retail space with FIVE TIMES the amount of light as in the adjacent general lighting. If you really want to create dazzle, the recommendation is to illuminate some of the displays to 10 TIMES the level of the adjacent general lighting. This means that in a store with an average light level of 30 footcandles, the special displays need 300 footcandles.

Getting to those kinds of light levels while being responsible about energy consumption can be a challenge.

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind for successful retail lighting.

Use directional light for feature displays.

Directional lights have punch. Instead of just oozing out of a lamp, they emit their lumens with purpose and…direction. Fluorescent light is not the type of directional light you need for retail, no matter what kind of reflector you put on it. If the lights will be on all day long, consider Ceramic Metal Halide lamps. They come in small point sources that can be used with high quality reflectors for superior light control. If you are putting 300 - 500 footcandles on a surface, you definitely want to control that light. Put it all where you want it. Efficiency is the name of the game. High quality reflector style LED lamps or MR-16 lamps are also good directional options.

Good color rendering makes merchandise look its best.

I can’t emphasize this enough. If you want to sell it, make it look good. You can narrow down the lamp choices by looking at color accuracy information in the catalog or on the packaging. Look for high CRI lamps with full color spectrum. For LED lamps, get one with a high R9 value. This tells you how well that lamp renders red – a sometimes difficult but always important color in food, skin undertones, clothing, and more. If possible, get samples and use mock-ups when you make the final lamp choice. Which light source makes your products shine? That’s the one you want.

Have you noticed more daylight where you shop?

Studies have shown that people purchase more when products are displayed under daylight. Daylight renders colors perfectly, can be used to conserve energy, AND it makes people buy more stuff. Bonus! It’s the perfect source for retail! As the saying goes, though, there is no free lunch light. Daylight must be controlled. Rotate merchandise to avoid fading due to the sun’s UV rays. Use shades to block harsh sun angles. Dim lights to save energy when the sun is providing enough ambient light for your space.

There are so many different tasks to consider for retail lighting – sales transaction areas, show windows, fitting rooms, and displays all require distinct lighting treatments. Light can be used to draw patrons deeper into the space. It can create excitement and add interest. How are you using light as a tool to drive sales in your store?

Lisa J Reed photo - Lighting Blog

Lisa J. Reed has been attracted to lighting (like a moth to a flame) for 20+ years. She is the Founding Principal at Envision Lighting Design, LLC in St. Louis, where she designs, teaches, and writes about architectural lighting.


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