There are many contract lighting consultants ready to work on retail lighting design
for a 100,000 square foot department store. Affordable retail lighting advice for
the small store or boutique owner, however, is more difficult to come by. This
article outlines simple lighting strategies to help the small retail store owner
increase overall sales by using lighting to:
- create an inviting shopping environment to attract and keep customers in the store longer
- focus shopper attention on merchandise to maximize opportunities for purchase
- communicate quality and exclusivity of merchandise
Lighting Various Business Types
To begin, let’s put a little structure around your intuitive understanding of why
different lighting types should be used in different retail environments. Grocery
stores, drug stores and fast food restaurants all sell sought goods. When people run
out of cereal, they go to the grocery. Customers seeking these goods will find the
nearest store to complete the purchase. Once the customer enters the store, the
purchase is essentially a foregone conclusion…the customer needs just enough light
to find the product they are seeking. Naturally, price competition ensues in such
markets and sought goods retailers do everything to keep costs down. This is an
ideal environment for general illumination using cost-effective fluorescent fixtures.
But what if you operate a business selling goods that people don’t necessarily seek
out every day? What if you are more interested in increasing revenues rather than
saving a few cents a month on your electricity bill? In short, what if you run a
small boutique shop and you just want to attract customers? Lighting in these
retail environments plays a critical roll in the success or failure of the business
and therefore requires a little more thought.
Lighting to Sell
To make merchandise in a front window or on a prominent display ‘pop’ and thus
attract customers, keep two lighting principles in mind: contrast and color.
Overall brightness isn’t as important when lighting your merchandise as is the
relative brightness of the merchandise. If the general, ambient lighting in your
store is very bright then accent lighting on your merchandise will have little
effect. If ambient lighting is low, accent lighting will create significant contrast
and the merchandise will stand out and command the attention of customers.