When it comes to retail design, lighting is an often overlooked and underutilized merchandising tool. While things like exit lighting need to be easily seen by customers, the rest of the lighting allows a little more creativity. How an interior retail space is lit has a direct impact on our mood and can mean the difference between a purchase and leaving empty handed. It can even subconsciously influence our decision on whether or not we enter the store at all.

Offering an in-store ‘customer experience’ is particularly essential now that brick and mortar outlets have to compete more and more with online retailers. Implementing a layered system of various types of lighting will deliver a comfortable and enjoyable shopping experience for customers and is the key to showing off your product at its best. So where do you start? When Restless. Design is assessing a new lighting scheme within a retail space we usually break it down into three (often interchangeable) categories of lighting: functional, accent & ambient. Once you have settled on a layout for your stores’ lighting, make sure you get a good commercial electrician to make sure that your vision is properly realised.

Functional lighting is the base layer. It lights the overall space from above and guides customers through the store. It also leads customers to destination points such as fitting rooms, pay points and exits. Functional lighting refers to ceiling spots, down lights and track lighting. Track lighting should be considered if you change your store layout often as they are flexible and can move with your retail fixtures. Suspended track systems cause minimum to damage walls or ceilings and so are an effective solution when working with older or protected buildings. Lighting colour temperature (avoid cool!), strength and dimming switches should always be considered with each layer. Additionally, more modern lighting specifically designed for places like retail are being produced, such as these acoustic ceiling light fixtures. Acoustic lighting helps soften sounds and reduces reverberations which allow for a more enjoyable customer experience; no one wants to be walking around a noisy shop! These light fixtures can be a beautiful addition to your retail store, whilst creating that soft lighting that defines whether the customer will be leaving empty-handed.

Accent lighting is arguably the most important layer as it usually focuses directly on the product. I heard from a friend that he used Lutron Lighting with these ideas in mind. Finding a lighting focal point for their homes. But anyway retailers use this layer of lighting to direct customers’ attention to specific items. This can be achieved using spotlights, lighting within retail fixtures, and halo lighting. Ambient lighting can differentiate between standard product and premium product. Integrating lighting within retail fixtures is discreet and especially effective in making a product stand out. Light washed onto the front illuminates the whole product while light glowing from the back produces a sense of drama. Halo lighting an entire retail fixture or display wall evokes a feeling of luxury.

Ambient lighting refers to fittings such as decorative wall lights, lamps and special feature lighting. Wall lights are particularly useful at providing a soft glow around the perimeters of the space and highlighting architectural features. While these lights do not always illuminate anything specific, they directly contribute to the overall mood of the space. Feature lighting that is visible from outside of the store can draw attention in. Decorative lighting can also be used to define zones and are often a beautiful design element within the space.

Creating a lighting scheme for your retail store can seem like a daunting and expensive task but when done correctly it can dramatically transform a space. If you are undertaking a retail refurbishment project it is important to set aside a realistic budget for lighting at an early stage. The right lighting scheme is a worthwhile investment.

Ciara O’Rourke

Senior Designer at Restless.Design

RESTLESS.DESIGN can help you with your refurbishment project.

Please contact our commercial team at 01-4309555 or email: [email protected] to discuss your requirements with us.