The Impact of Store Lighting

Have you given much thought to how your lighting impacts your store? Lighting plays a very important role in showcasing your store merchandise as well as providing a great part of the design in your store. Where you use  lighting and why you use lighting will make the difference of a successful store layout versus an unfinished store layout. A few things to consider when thinking about how lighting can help your store includes:

1. Helps define overall store image

2. Highlights products and helps make them visible

3. Encourages purchases by visual enhancement

4. Helps lead customers into store

5. Allows for more enjoyable shopping experiences

There is no single store lighting formula that you can follow as a retailer to ensure you are using your lighting correctly, but the points above allow you to think about the lighting decisions you have made or need to make. There are, of course, a few more things to consider.

Accent Lighting

Accent lighting should be used according to your overall store assortment. If your store sells higher-end luxury items, it is ideal for you to use accent lighting to showcase these  items. More basic stores that sell a variety of products with less luxury items should use accent items to showcase sale items, new items or items that you believe need to be called out with special attention. The goal of accent lighting is to call attention to a few products versus everything in the store. Use only as necessary yet enough to make an impact on the products you believe deserve this attention.

High Activity Lighting

Have a store that gets a ton of traffic and sells a ton of different stuff? Using light to bring attention to areas versus one specific product should be considered. Think about a back corner that may not get the right lighting with simple overhead fixtures but deserves just as much attention as the rest of your store. Stage your lighting to focus on these entire areas. Don’t forget about tall shelves, back corners, entire display fixtures and all other areas that matter here.

Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting refers to your overall store lighting, allowing for customers to get a general store overview through the lighting used in your store. An example of this would be one prominent light fixture hanging in the center of the store, such as a large chandelier. This lighting makes the largest overall impact, so make sure it doesn’t change the color of your product or make the store appear offset in store layout.

Case & Shelve Lighting

Have you ever shopped somewhere and had to struggle to see inside a case to view a product? This is what you want to avoid in your own store. All products should be visible, so consider using shelve and case lighting as necessary. Make sure that you do not have this lighting exposed in a place that customers may lean against it or tough it accidently, as it can get very hot.

Finally, whatever lighting plans you decide on for your store, make sure to change them as your merchandise and floor plan changes. The impact lighting will have on your store is as important as all the other steps it takes to run a successful retail business, so please make sure to review and review again these details as necessary.


  • The trend to set the “shopping mood” with dim or low light is evident in many types of retail venues today including specialty retailers (Boutiques / mall stores) as well as large chain grocers. I personally love a dimly lit store as I find it relaxing. The more relaxed I feel the greater chance I, and your customers, will linger spending more at the register.

    Bright lights and bold colors tend to give a feeling of being rushed. Take a look at the fast food industry where proprietors want you in and out quickly. All fast food chains are bright, colorful and uncomfortable.

    I shop at stores that offer a feeling of calmness. I think many of your readers here would agree-

    This topic reminds me of a great book entitled, “The science of shopping” by Paco Underhill. Those who find interest in the minds of a shopper should read this book.

    Greta post! Keep up the good work!

  • Ted Hurlbut
    May 6, 2009

    Lighting is an important part of “setting the stage” for the customer. Lighting needs to reflect the overall customer experience you are trying to establish. It must complement all of the other sensory inputs a customers receives from being in your store.

  • Lauren
    June 3, 2010

    Great article! I think lighting is one of the most important things in a retail store. Also much easier to succeed at with a smaller retail store. Lighting, scents, sound, all Muy importante!

  • Jonas Falk
    September 30, 2012

    Great article. Retail lighting is really essential to create an atmosphere and environment in the shop that inspires the buyer. Inspiration is a key in the buying decision

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