How to Choose the Best Lighting for Retail Stores

Retail stores have an uphill battle when it comes to attracting customers and making sales. There’s lots of competition, so you need to give people a reason to step through your doors. You can do that by offering great products and fantastic service, but the easiest way to catch someone’s attention is with your lighting. The best lighting for retail stores creates a mood that’s inviting and flattering. Done right, you can use lighting to catch the interest of passersby and turn ordinary products into irresistible temptations. Achieving that isn’t always simple though. In this article we’ll go over the basics of choosing the best lighting for retail stores and some of the things you should avoid along the way.

How to Choose Lighting for Your Retail Store

Before we dive into the best lighting for retail stores, it’s worth understanding some of the basic concepts involved. Designing a lighting plan is more than just picking up some LED downlights and hoping for the best. If you want to create an inviting store that helps you kick your sales targets, you’ll need to look at each lighting fixture and consider:

  • Brightness. Measured in lumens, the brightness of a light is the difference between setting the mood and highlighting a key product. When selecting fixtures and bulbs, you’ll need to balance your practical lighting needs against the design aesthetic you’re trying to achieve.

  • Energy consumption. Energy can be a large expense for a business, especially if you’re running a complex lighting plan. Most retail stores now opt for LED lighting because it provides the longest life and the lowest energy-consumption.

  • Colour rendering index. The Colour Rendering Index (CRI) is a measure of how much a light source distorts colours. For instance, a light with a low CRI score could make a red t-shirt look pink or orange, which can cost you sales. Retail stores should always invest in lighting with a CRI score of 90+ to ensure your products are being displayed correctly. 

  • Colour temperature. A bulb’s colour temperature measures the hue of the light being emitted. Colour temperature is measured in Kelvins (K). Lower temperatures of 2000-3500K provide a warm white light. Higher temperatures of 3500-5000K+ provide a cool white light. Colour temperature should be matched to the products you’re selling. For instance, a clothing shop might prefer warmer whites, while a pharmacy will benefit more from the clinical brightness of cool white lighting.

What to Avoid When Designing a Retail Lighting Plan

Designing lighting plans for retail stores is always a challenge. The lighting you choose can have a dramatic effect on the look and feel of your business, but it can also impact how customers spend their money. An attractive lighting plan draws attention to the right things and encourages customers to explore everything you have to offer. If you want to take advantage of that effect then you’ll need to avoid a few things:

  • Stagnant lighting plans. Your store is dynamic, so its lighting should be too! Avoid using the same lighting plan season after season. If your layout or products change, make sure you’re tweaking the lighting so that it continues to provide the right effect.

  • Putting emphasis in the wrong areas. Lighting is a powerful tool for guiding customers through your store and drawing attention to products. If your lighting puts emphasis on the wrong things – like aisles or private staff areas – you could be missing out on valuable sales.

  • Using the same lighting across the store. Your lighting plan should use a mix of light sources to selectively draw a customer’s attention. While using the same lighting across the store can give you a clean, uniform look, it’s usually a bad way to make an impact on your customers.

  • Overdoing it. Retail lighting plans need to find a balance between providing enough lighting without becoming too dim. Just like dim lighting could put customers off, overlit spaces can do the same, especially if the lights create glare or shine directly into a customer’s face.

The Best Lighting for Retail Stores

These days there’s no shortage of retail lighting options to choose from. Shop owners are spoiled for choice, and modern LED lighting means you can design a fantastic lighting plan that has incredibly low running costs. When specifying lighting for commercial projects, we break down the best lighting for retail stores into four main categories:

  • Spotlights and downlights. Spotlights, can lights and downlights are the starting point for most modern lighting plans. These simple lights aren’t the most beautiful option, but they’re incredibly effective at providing usable light. Modern LED downlights are a great choice for illuminating traffic zones like aisles, or for providing a soft baseline that supports your feature lighting.

  • Tube and panel lighting. Fluorescent tube lights are ideal for large retail stores. If you are designing a lighting plan for a large store, modern LED tube or panel lighting can provide greater energy-efficiency and provide a bright, ubiquitous light source.

  • Feature lighting. Feature lighting, like LED panels and strips, dimmable lights and aimable spotlights are your best tools for setting the mood. Your feature lights should be used to highlight your products and create the right atmosphere. This could be done by adding features like soft backlighting to shelving units, aiming spotlights at hero products or by lighting cabinets filled with small goods.

  • Decorative lighting. Decorative light fittings are anything that’s intended to be a design feature all on its own. Exposed filament bulbs, chandeliers and light boxes can all be used to decorate your space while providing useful lighting cues.

This list might look simple, but the variety of products means that designing an effective lighting plan is better left to the professionals. A commercial lighting specialist that understands how to select and install fittings will be your best friend when it comes to choosing the best lighting for retail stores.

Update Your Lighting Plan with an Experienced Electrician Brisbane Wide!

Lighting is one of the most important elements of any retail shop. Whether you’re fitting out a new location or updating an existing design, it’s worth talking to an experienced commercial electrician. Dawson Electric offers residential and commercial expertise throughout Brisbane. Our qualified electricians have worked on commercial jobs of all shapes and sizes, so we can design a lighting plan that’s perfect for your retail store. Contact us today to find out more or to get a quote from our electrician Brisbane team!

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