Retail Lighting 101: Tips on Selecting the Best Lights for Your Store

When it comes to choosing lights for retail establishments, no two types are created equally. While in general, a good light source will allow you and your employees to see well enough to work and also let your customers check out all of your terrific merchandise, lighting can do much more than that. For example, the proper lighting choices can help create a warm and homey atmosphere in your shop, as well as really help draw your customers’ eyes to your products.

Four Main Types of Lighting

As Fit Small Business notes, there are four main types of lighting in retail establishments. The first is general or ambient lighting—this term refers to the main light source in the store that enables everyone to see and shop. Task lighting is used to highlight specific areas of the store in a certain way—for example, the dressing rooms or maybe the front entrance. Third, retailers should consider accent lighting, which will help certain areas of the store to really stand out; great examples of this are lights that are tucked inside shelves and bookcases or anything that shines directly on new products. Finally, retailers can use decorative lighting in their stores; this focuses more on looks than function. Common examples are beautiful chandeliers and glass Tiffany-style lamps.

Deciding which types of lighting to use where often depends on the type of retail shop and what it is selling. For example, consider the following three stores and how certain lights can and should be used:

Hardware Store

In general, hardware stores have a no-nonsense vibe going on. People usually shop there for a specific item and they don’t spend a lot of time browsing or window shopping. In a more utilitarian store like this, basic and hard working lighting like fluorescent bulbs are certainly appropriate—they can throw off a lot of light at once and will help people see the various tools, paint and other supplies that they need. While you might consider adding some accent or spotlight lighting to highlight a new brand of products that you are selling or maybe some task lighting up front near the door, in most cases, you can get by with more utilitarian lighting.

Coffee Shop

Most neighborhood coffee shops are places where people come in to buy a cup of Joe and then hang out for awhile chatting with friends or reading a good book while sipping their drink. To help provide a welcoming and homey feel that will encourage your customers to stay, you need to choose lights carefully. If your shop has a lot of windows and natural light, you might use this to your advantage by choosing window treatments that can be opened up during certain times of the day, and then closed when the direct sunlight is pouring into the store. For example, The Shade Store sellsa wide selection of beautiful window treatments that are ideal for retailers whose shops get a lot of natural light. The Roller Shades have a classic and stylish look that is ideal for a coffee shop and as a bonus, they can easily be rolled up or down depending on how much outside light you want to add in. If you sell a selection of mugs, bagged coffees and coffee makers in your shop, you might want to add some accent lighting under the different shelves to help highlight the wares; small spotlights that don’t hit your customers in the eye can also help them see your other items for sale.

Clothing Boutiques

As the Houston Chronicle notes, clothing boutiques can use lighting in a variety of effective ways that will help to define the type of store it is and encourage people to shop there. For example, if you sell clothing that is more edgy than classic, consider track and rope lights. If you focus more on infant and toddler duds, then softer light sources might be more appropriate. Since fluorescent lights tend to wash people out, avoid using this type of light bulb, especially near or in the dressing rooms. If you specialize in upscale designer clothing, gorgeous chandeliers can also help to set the proper mood in your store.


Photo Credit: Social Monsters

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