Text: Gary Campbell
Photos: dpa

24. Mar 2014

Small, Medium and Large
Lighting retail environments

What does the lighting in retail spaces need to achieve to meet a particular retail brand’s aspirations? Primarily to show the merchandise to best effect in terms of form, colour and texture, and to help make it attractive to the customer. Then, to further promote sales, illuminate the retail space itself to best effect to enhance the brand, and ultimately form part of the whole brand and store experience for the customer.

As well as all sizes of retail space there are all types of brands pitching at different markets and different levels within each market – fashion is a good example of this. Ultimately, scale of retail space plays an important part in developing an appropriate lighting solution. There are many aspects to consider when developing appropriate lighting designs for different sizes of retail space and different types of product and each brand will want their own unique interior and lighting design. However there are some lighting design fundamentals which can be applied in some form to all retail applications.
So what are some of these lighting considerations? Ambient light levels – the general light levels in a store are important to set the mood of the brand and the space to the customer. The ambient lighting can give visual clues about the target and market positioning of the brand. It can often be observed that the higher the quality of the brand and the merchandise the lower the ambient light levels will be. For a high end brand, ambient light levels are lower to allow the product to stand out more easily with display lighting and provide more visual contrast and a sense of journey. This leads to increased visual interest on the part of the customer and hence a perception of higher quality. This is especially true of luxury fashion boutiques. Larger retail spaces such as supermarkets, department stores and shopping malls rely more on much higher ambient light levels and less contrast with accent lighting since the areas to be lit are larger and ceiling heights are typically much higher giving very significant volumes. So the ambient lighting also serves to illuminate the product to a high level.
Apparent ambient light levels to the customer will of course relate to store interior surface reflectances and it is important to consider the interior design finishes in the overall determination of ambient light levels. Display lighting levels – again, the level of accent lighting and contrast will vary with size of space 50 and level of brand. The purpose of
lighting in a retail store is not only to show the brand as well as possible and contribute to the overall brand experience of the shopper, but more importantly to illuminate the product to best effect. […]
The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 92

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