LEDs Boost Sales and Lighting Quality in Retail Outlets

Nationwide, retailers of all types and sizes are embracing the benefits of LEDs. Among those retailers:

  • Walmart recently installed over 1.5 million LED fixtures in 6,000 of its stores, parking lots, distribution centers, and corporate offices.
  • Target recently installed over 2 million LED fixtures and LED retrofit kits across the majority of its 1,800+ stores nationwide and is enjoying upwards of a 25% reduction in lighting energy and costs.
  • Premium luggage and accessory retailer Tumi has pursued LED upgrades in its stores in the past several years to improve lighting quality and color rendering.
  • National grocery chains Publix, Albertson’s, and Whole Foods have all undertaken LED upgrade projects in recent years.

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Why stores are embracing LED lighting

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), there are over 1 million retail establishments across the U.S.  In the competitive retail sector, which is fighting for its share of sales against a growing population of online players, brick-and-mortar retailers find LEDs appealing for many reasons.  Among them:

  • LEDs save costs and energy – According to Chain Store Age Magazine, lighting is one of the top three operating costs in retail, often accounting for 50% of energy costs for non-food retailers. By switching from traditional lighting to LED technology, retailers can reduce energy consumption and costs by upwards of 30-50%, thus reducing their ecological footprint.  And because of their high efficiency, LEDs are eligible for utility rebates that can reduce the cost of an LED upgrade by as much as 25%.
  • LEDs improve lighting quality – Thanks to their high color rendering index (CRI) and ability to match or complement the color of natural daylight, high-quality LEDs show the color of merchandise in its truest form and enable hues to pop. At the same time, their uniform distribution of light avoids the hot-spotting, shadowing, and color-shifting properties associated with more conventional lighting technologies as they age.
  • LEDs last longer – With lifespans of up to 100,000 hours, LEDs last 2-5 times longer than their conventional counterparts and, in the 11-hour operating day of a typical retail setting, can theoretically last for a decade or more without requiring changeout or maintenance.
  • LEDs offer more – Some LEDs feature circuitry that offers retailers greater control over their lighting – from the ability to dim, change colors, and track store traffic to engage in daylight harvesting, and ‘scene setting’ to save their most-used lighting configurations.
  • LEDs boost sales – In an often-cited study conducted a few years ago, Dutch researchers lit half of a supermarket with LEDs and the other half with fluorescent lighting. After tracking sales for 21 weeks, the portion of the store lit by LEDs experienced nearly 2% higher sales per customer than the traditionally lit side.

Four tips for retail lighting

Depending on a retailer’s objective, a good LED lighting design can help attract customers to their store, lead them through the in-store experience, highlight specific merchandise, create a mood, keep them in the store longer, and boost their in-store purchases. 

  1. Combine lighting to create layers -- Several different types of lighting comprise a sound design. These include main ambient lighting, task lighting for areas where tasks will be performed (such as checkout lanes, customer service, and dressing rooms), accent lighting to highlight certain products, displays, or store areas, and decorative lighting to support the store’s brand/image and make a statement. LEDs can support all these areas to achieve a layered look.
  2. Select color temperature wisely -- Warm color temperatures (up to 3500K) tend to feel comfortable and inviting (ideal for selling furniture), while cool temperatures (5000K and above) are used to convey a modern, crisp ambiance (ideal for electronics and gadgets).
  3. Brighten your entryway -- Opt for higher brightness at entryways and dynamic, high-contrast lighting in store windows to attract customers.
  4. Consider controls – Commonly referred to as “smart” lighting, LEDs that employ sensors or certain circuitry offer extensive benefits and can be adjusted to the ever-changing retail landscape.