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2 September 2020
Kuldeep Bwail

Why Is Lighting Customised for Retail Outlets?

Increase sales! More than anything, retail outlets want to increase revenue in as many ways as possible. One of those ways is by customising retail lighting to provide more than just the right ambience. Clever use of lighting can guide customers through a store, cause a pause and ultimately increase customer spending. Used as a visual merchandising and branding tool, retail lighting can create an enjoyable shopping experience, increase brand awareness and result in higher sales. It can also impact employee productivity, emphasise specific merchandise and affect operational costs at a retail outlet. Reliable and high-quality retail design drawings and retail construction drawings enable retailers to showcase brand concepts and plan for the effective placement of merchandise.

Feelings and moods can drive purchases. Who hasn’t indulged in retail therapy every now and then? The right lighting can help create a pleasant retail atmosphere, and a person in a pleasant mood is more likely to perceive brands and products in a positive light. The emotional impact of lighting can direct shoppers to specific products and influence their perception of a brand. Some examples of this are as follows:

  • Soft, warm lighting induces comfort and relaxation.
  • Bright lights help shoppers see merchandise clearly.
  • Using dim lights in walkways and bright spotlights on products emphasises those products, drawing customers near them.

Retail lighting can be of several types, but the main categories are: Ambient, Task, Accent and Decorative.


The main lighting in a store is its ambient lighting. Shoppers must feel comfortable with the ambient lighting. If the lighting is too dim, the retail outlet seems less impressive, and seeing merchandise clearly and reading labels becomes labored – something no one wants. Lights that are too bright can be equally uncomfortable. It becomes relevant to consider the size of the space while determining the brightness of ambient lighting. Warehouse-type large spaces with high ceilings need bright lights, as they are placed high in the space and will need to light large areas sufficiently. Smaller outlets need less powerful lights for the same effect.


Certain parts of a retail store are focused on executing specific tasks, such as the billing area, changing rooms, etc. These areas require brighter lighting. The lighting in changing rooms are especially important in helping customers decide on purchases. Mirrors, light placement and light intensity are carefully planned to help shoppers assess clothes. Cashiers need bright lights to perform their tasks efficiently. Task lighting also refers to the signage of the store and the light at the store entrance.


Accent lighting highlights certain areas in retail outlets so that shoppers are drawn to them or recognise that the merchandise displayed there is important and worthy of taking note. These could include seasonal products, discounted products, etc. Accent lighting is also used to highlight products on certain shelves or display nooks. It can be used to highlight products in window displays and entice people to enter stores and is used regularly in luxury outlets.


More focused on visual appeal and less on illumination, decorative lighting is dependent on light fixtures that are aesthetically attractive.

Fixing the Right Light Fixtures

All types of lighting require the right light fixtures to create the desired atmosphere. For an intimate feel, retailers can use vintage fixtures, chandeliers or dome lighting. Recessed lighting, track lighting and suspended fixtures can communicate a more professional ambience.

Store space can be broken up with different kinds of light fixtures in different areas, such as changing rooms and entrances. Fixtures can also represent the brand identity and reflect the theme of the products.

The Colour Effect

The cooling or warming effect of certain coloured lighting can dictate the atmosphere of a retail space. For instance, cool white lights make interiors seem more spacious. A small story can seem bigger with cool lighting. Warm yellow lights create cosiness and familiarity. Coloured lights of high quality can help the business grow.

The Idea behind Bulbs

In the past, most stores have used fluorescent lighting, but increasingly, retailers tend to favour LED lights, which are energy-efficient and cost-effective and can be small, bright and focused on specific points.

Contrasting Views

Various light sources around a retail space can create contrast around the merchandise on display. This helps draw shoppers’ attention to the shelves and showcases product details and focuses on new items or high-ticket merchandise. Shadows around displays and spotlights on products help direct the shoppers’ eyes. Pinpoint accenting emphasises contrasts in shop windows, attracting the attention of passers-by.

Backing the Backlight

Backlighting highlights wide displays. Soft backlighting can draw attention to shelves on the ground, which are easy to overlook. The soft, intimate atmosphere of a backlight appeals to the eye and keeps shoppers lingering.

Retailers, thus, gain a number of benefits, from both customers and employees, when using high-quality lighting.

How Lighting Affects Customers
  • Attracts passing customers into the store
  • Guides customers through the store layout
  • Focuses customer attention on specific products, enabling close study of the products
  • Can make shoppers feel relaxed, comfortable or excited
  • Affects customer moods, behaviors (following bright paths, focusing attention) and purchasing habits
  • Shoppers can examine the product quality and move through the price range

By spending more time in a store with good lighting, shoppers are inclined to spend more money and are likely to return.

How Good Lighting Benefits Retailers
  • Retailers can create the right mood for their products.
  • By enhancing their appearance with the right lighting, products look impressive.
  • With the right lighting, customer experience of the retail space, from the first impressions to checkout, are positive.
  • Highlights the brand and helps create a reliable customer-brand bond
  • Saves energy consumption and operational costs
  • Drives sales
How Lighting Affects Employees
  • Increased focus on tasks
  • Increased job satisfaction
  • Employees become more friendly.
  • Workplace brand characteristics are communicated well, making employees advocates of the brand.

All of the above ultimately result in more productive employees.

So, which parts of a retail outlet deserve special consideration for lighting?

Mainly, this would include fitting rooms, sales and billing areas, product display areas, feature display areas and window display areas.

  • Fitting Rooms – Proper illumination is required so that customers can look and therefore feel good, inducing them to follow through with a purchase.
  • Sales and Billing Areas – To see and buy products, bright lights are required, and it helps people see on-sale items near the billing areas.
  • Product and Feature Display Areas – Whether new or old, lighting should highlight and flatter merchandise and induce shoppers to pause, consider, touch and eventually buy it.
  • Window Display Areas – Window lighting is important to capture the attention of passers-by and must effectively communicate the brand characteristics and induce people to enter the retail outlet.

Another important aspect of retail lighting is emergency lighting, or the lighting that is turned on automatically during a fire or power outage to enable safe exit for customers and staff. Typically, emergency lights function with backup batteries that can be recharged and are placed within the emergency light or in a central battery location connected to each emergency light. The two main types of emergency lighting are emergency escape lighting and standby lighting. These lights should be installed in all areas with customer or employee presence, all exit and pathway routes and should extend to public areas or streets or safe assembly areas.

Lighting is a long-term investment that needs careful consideration for quality, energy-saving features and the flexibility to be adjusted for different seasons and times of the day. To help create the right environment and cut costs, retailers may be best served in investing in quality, store architectural design services, 3D CAD design services, specifically quality engineering drafting services and CAD architectural drafting services. They can source these from experienced BIM (Building Information Modelling) outsourcing firms who can deliver cost-effective and high-quality architectural BIM modelling services to successfully plan lighting solutions customised for their retail needs.

XS CAD has valuable experience providing support for architectural drafting services, lighting design and lighting layouts for global retailers. Our range of services for retailers include drafting, BIM modelling and visualisation for all stages of the design process. We also provide manufacturing and assembly drawings, Revit family libraries, retail design support alongside our documentation and construction drawing services.