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Keeping the Lights On

Raising the Bar in Retail Lighting can Keep Retailers’ Registers Ringing



You can look no further than the off-the-chart sales of Apple’s iPad 2 (or really any Apple product, for that matter) to see that people still appreciate great design.

In retail, one of the biggest contributors to successful design is lighting. A well-lit store draws you in and directs your eye to the product, not the ceiling and flooring. Good lighting lets you distinguish the navys from the blacks. It means standing inside the fitting room and not struggling to see just how good you really look in that outfit. But get one of those elements wrong and watch the missed sales opportunities walk out your door.

Today, when shoppers can buy practically anything via their smartphones, they’re still coming into malls and stores. “Even if they’re going home to buy it online, people still need that store environment to communicate product information,” says Paul Gregory, founder and president of Focus Lighting Inc. (New York). “They need to feel the jeans or see the luster of the diamond.”

And that, he adds, is raising the bar on store lighting. “It’s about using lighting to create an emotion,” he says.

Retailers are already being pushed to reconsider how they do lighting, thanks in part to rising energy costs, the eventual elimination of the incandescent and changing state regulations. In January, for example, Georgia code changed to allow as little as 1.5 watts of lighting energy per square foot. There are 49 other states with similar updates and tweaks, too, not to mention international lighting guidelines.

Take all these changes, plus the need to up the ante on the in-store experience, and what’s a retailer to do?


For some, it’s putting the latest technologies to work inside your stores, such as what Cole Haan did with its all-LED store in SoHo (see page 26). Another trend can be found in the overall design approach to lighting. As evidenced on the trade show floors at EuroShop and GlobalShop this year, lighting companies are introducing new products designed to be incorporated into displays to achieve desired light levels and still meet code compliance. (For more on the latest lighting products, see pages 30 and 46-51 in this issue.)

“The integration of lighting in everything stood out at this year’s EuroShop,” says Brian Dyches, global retail strategist, designer and educator. “Companies were showing new ways to use lighting.”
That’s just the help retailers need to keep the lights on.



MasterClass: ‘Re-Sparkling’ Retail: Using Store Design to Build Trust, Faith and Brand Loyalty

HOW CAN WE EMPOWER and inspire senior leaders to see design as an investment for future retail growth? This session, led by retail design expert Ian Johnston from Quinine Design, explores how physical stores remain unmatched in the ability to build trust, faith, and loyalty with your customers, ultimately driving shareholder value.

Presented by:
Ian Johnston
Founder and Creative Director, Quinine Design

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