Posted: June 18, 2013, 6 p.m. EST
Optimum interior illumination can light the way to greater product visibility and profit.
By Keith Loria
Running a retail store involves attention to all aspects of a business, but according to Chris Miller, president of Pacific Store Designs Inc., Garden Grove, Calif., the thing that gets overlooked most is a store’s lighting.
"People need to realize how important it is,” Miller said. "Typically, stores take whatever the landlord gives them, but for a retail store to thrive, it needs to focus on better lighting options.”
Miller said when choosing a lighting system, retailers should consider their stores’ lighting color rendering index (CRI), which is the measure of the ability of light to display the colors of illuminated objects. More specifically, CRI is a number between 1 and 100 representing the breadth of the visible light spectrum a light source emits.
In addition to lighting products, appropriate illuminating items offer decoration in their own right. iStockphoto/Thinkstock
"Create hot spots in the store to attract a consumer’s eye—counters, window displays, focal points—anywhere you want people to spend more time,” Miller said.
"Create a welcoming, comfortable lighting environment,” said Roger Gonzalez, vice president of Brilliant Lighting in Austin, Texas. "This will occur naturally if you keep ambient lighting levels at a low to moderate level and carefully aim your accent lights to prevent glare. The subtle, resulting effect is to place merchandise on stage while placing customers in a more relaxed ‘off stage’ observer roll.”
Thomas Spinelli, owner of MHT Lighting in Staten Island, N.Y., said pet stores can select from a variety of LED and induction-type fixtures for both interior and exterior spaces.
Larry Rallo, business development manager at LEDtronics in Torrance, Calif., said LEDs deliver many positive features.
"The sustainability, dependability and reliability of LEDs are far and away greater than current traditional lighting sources,” he said. "Whereas fluorescent tube, halogen, incandescent and CFL lighting have a life cycle of 1,000 to 20,000 on the high side, LED lighting is 50,000 hours plus. That results in reduced replacement and maintenance costs.”
Sarah Barnard, owner and interior designer with Sarah Barnard Design in Santa Monica, Calif., said LED fixtures are more affordable than ever and are becoming commonplace.
"Recessed LED lighting is attractive, requires limited energy and has a long life cycle,” she said. "Directional lighting fixtures are also available in LED and can enhance the customer shopping experience, highlight product and demonstrate your company’s commitment to the environment.”
"Interior store spaces should consider LED options, including LED retrofits for hung-mounted or lay-in type troffers,” Spinelli said. "Accent lighting can be achieved with LED track lights, which are coming down in price.”
On the exterior of a pet store and parking areas, induction lighting is an appropriate alternative to traditional metal halide and high-pressure sodium sources.
"Induction lighting normally lasts 100,000 hours and operates at a 50 to 70 percent reduction in energy costs,” Spinelli said.
Light the Way
Navigating the broad realm of available fixture and lamp types can be overwhelming for a business owner or property manager and lead to costly mistakes during the buildout.
Retail space lighting brings products into clear focus for customers. Carrie Brenner/I-5 Publishing at Pet Supply
Starting a new retail space
? An interior or lighting designer with commercial environment experience will work with blueprints to determine the best results.
"Specifying a compatible hierarchy of fixtures that perform individual functions is the foundation of good lighting design,” Miller said.
According to Spinelli, a new store should determine the best light source for its own application. Ceiling heights and light spacing play an important part in determining the correct choice.
"The amount of light a retail space receives from its storefront and windows all have an impact on the best solution,” Spinelli said. "In general, LED panel lights are a good alternative for overall cost-efficient lighting that will provide an even lumin output across larger areas, provided ceiling heights are below 13 feet. Above that, a low- or high-bay induction application should be considered. Outdoor area lighting and signage can be accomplished with both technologies.”
Care-A-Lot Pet Supply recently open a new store in Virginia Beach, Va., and sought an eco-friendly lighting solution—a strategy focused on LED luminaires and highly efficient fluorescent lighting.
"LED lighting appeals to retail customers,” said Robert Clarke, company president. "It supports a well-merchandised store and creates a more comfortable environment. It pays for itself quickly.”
In building the store, one challenge was finding the right option for its 30-foot ceilings, said Clarke. The last thing the store wanted was inadequate light focused on its products and shelves. Clarke selected EVO LED downlight fixtures from Gotham lighting. In addition to its aesthetic design, the EVO line helps avoid frequent maintenance and high-energy usage, he added.
Another problem involved a curved floating ceiling of the aquarium and its odd reflections. According to Clarke, Lithonia Lighting recessed Do-M series LEDs were installed to shield the high brightness of LED sources. Customers can view the aquarium without glare from the light source reflecting off the tanks.
Change the Outlook
Andrew Kim, owner of Healthy Spot in Marina Del Rey, Calif., worked with an architect to develop the lighting layout for his store.
"We use LEDs complemented by general wall-wash lighting, pendant lighting and some metal halides for spot lighting,” Kim said. "We use LEDs in our freezers and food walls to help bring light to the products and draw people into the stores. The metal halides are used to spotlight areas or key products.”
In two of the company’s locations—Santa Monica and West Hollywood—Kim recently swapped out the existing MR16 lighting with LED spot lighting.
"This is a more green approach and helps save energy and bulb costs,” he said. "We are a certified green business and want to make sure we revisit our lighting and energy usage every year to see where we can be more green, save money and provide a better shopping experience.”
For stores looking to change up their lighting, owners should concentrate on areas that will create the most impact.
"Interior lighting improvements are important to retaining customers, while functional exterior lighting is required to maintain visibility from the street,” Barnard said. "Work with your designer or architect to find balance between functional requirements and aesthetic improvements.”
Miller said balancing light levels between products and main thoroughfares can create visual impact and heighten customer attention.
Gonzalez said that to make products on prominent display "pop,” retailers must follow two lighting principles--contrast and color.
"If the general, ambient lighting in your store is bright, then accent lighting on your merchandise will have little effect,” he said. "If ambient lighting is low, accent lighting will create significant contrast, and the merchandise will stand out and command customer attention.” <HOME>
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