Enlighten Me: Lighting Your Store

Proper lighting sells merchandise more effectively than any other store design element. Without proper lighting your customer will not be drawn to or even see what your store sells. The key is not lots of lights but the effective usage of the correct ones. When lighting is designed into a store for both sales and display not only will your product “pop” but your client will be more comfortable and receptive.

Strategy: Diversify Your Light Sources

We typically suggest a combination of fluorescent and track mounted halogen lamps for most of our retail clients. The combination of ambient and spot lighting creates a flexible lighting program that supports a retail environment exceptionally well.

lighting overview diagram

Lighting can be provided by several sources in a retail environment. The diagram above details a possible lighting program for a retail store.

  1. Track lighting to punctuate specific items.
  2. Fluorescent recessed lamps for ambient lighting.
  3. Recessed incandescent lamps to mark traffic flow.
  4. Soffit strip lamps to highlight perimeter display.
  5. Pendant hung lamps to set off the counter area.

Track Lamps

These track fixtures are the best combination of simple design, commercial quality and reasonable pricing that we have found. Available in black or white, these fixtures will support most track lighting plans

Bulb Selection

Bulb selection is critical when planning the lighting levels for your store. Keep in mind that most focal point lighting will need to reach 500-foot candles, or more, for maximum effectiveness. Anything lower and the fluorescent lamps in most stores will wash out the sharpness of the spot bulbs. Some combination of three types of lamps is usually used depending upon your specific requirements and budget.

Fluorescent lamps are still best for general lighting in most stores. Unfortunately, the color rendition of standard fluorescents lamps is pretty dismal. Merchandise simply does not show its true color under either “cool” or “warm” fluorescent lamps. Designer lamps are now available that provide a combination of high light output and color rendering performance that will enhance your merchandise. These lamps are designed for retail use and can replace your existing fluorescents. An easy way to quickly change the look of your store.

Incandescent reflector bulbs have long been the standard for retail lighting. Good color and an economical price have made them the favorite for most display uses. These lamps have been redesigned to produce a Halogen PAR lamp with superior color rendition at a lower wattage output. The result, a 90-watt PAR bulb provides the same punch as a standard 150-watt reflector bulb.

Low-voltage quartz halogen lamps are used primarily for lighting dramatic displays in store interiors and windows. Tight beam control and excellent color rendition make these MR16 lamps the choice for those “special” displays.

lighting plan

A Retail Lighting Plan

This is the lighting plan we used for the La Jolla Surf Museum Gift Shop. Fluorescent lamps provide ambient light and we have added track lighting to attract interest and add dimension within the store.

Recessed low voltage halogen lamps are used in the wall cases and slimline fluorescent lamps in the POS cases.

Track is installed in the front windows and around the perimeter of the store approximately five to six feet in from the walls. Track lamps are placed every 24-36 inches around the stores perimeter and every 48 inches to highlight floor displays. The windows receive one lamp per 24 inches.

As you can see, developing an effective lighting lay-out isn’t as simple as screwing in a lightbulb. Take care with your lighting and it will pay dividends.

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