Science behind use of lights in retail design

Shopping is often referred to as retail therapy. It is said so because it is believed that while shopping, all the five senses get activated and give a sense of ‘high’, a sense of happiness. What is the effect that lighting in retail design have on these senses? How much does it aid in ‘therapy’ by shopping? What is the best way to use lighting to raise the attention and retention levels of customers?

Lighting conveys emotions and works on people’s instincts as well. It helps them gauge their way around and decide if they want to buy something from a particular retail space or not.  There are many aspects of lighting. To name a few: colour, distribution, intensity and brightness. There are some retail lighting suggestions which can help improve customer convenience, enhance their sense of well-being and hence translate into an increase in footfall and provide many more prospects for sale.

#1. Brightnessis out, contrast is in:

If instant attention is to be brought about to a product or placement, then high contrast maybe better suited than an all bright lighting.2 Not just will it cut down on energy consumption, but will also make perception easier and will intensify the attention. One way of suitable contrast is to pinpoint accent lighting, which stands out from surrounding and even looking ambient lighting.

3#2. Vertical lighting makes orientation easier:

While diffused general lighting may confirm a general sense of well-being, it is vertical illumination which will make it easier to grasp the layout of the room better. It will be easier for the customers to find their way around the periphery and hence they will like to buy from the store. At the same time, detailed accent lighting can improve the perception of the goods displayed and make them seem more attractive.




#3. Colour portray a sense of security:


Colours influence the customers’ sense of perception in guides them into a sense of security. Cool colour temperatures such as white make the area look bigger while a warm colour may denote smallness and familiarity. Transitional white light helps customers feel better and thus leads to them spending more time in the store. Hence white should be the preferred choice for general lighting. Even within a single lighting concept, people tend to show a preference for different light colours. Keeping this in mind, different colour temperatures should be implemented across general and vertical lighting. The latest Tunable White LED luminaire technology makes it possible to obtain colour temperature changes and hence can prove to be very useful tool in the area of retail lighting.



5 #4. Perception is gender and age dependent.

Gender and age have a bearing on how the customer understands the retail space. For e.g men tend to observe the broad overview, while the women like to look at details.  Hence, it will be beneficial to apply this learning in order to adapt the direction, colour and intensity of the lighting in accordance to the target group.






#5. Highlight the product in the shop window:

6The first point of contact with a shop is its window. Therefore it will help to focus on accent lighting on the merchandise (in addition to daylight). A further step in this regard, would be to deploy pinpoint accent lighting so that it focuses on perceived contrasts. As the day sheds into darkness, low levels of lighting will be enough to attract a customer to walk in.




#6. Shelf integrated lighting is crucial:

7Studies show that shelves at lower levels go relatively unnoticed. Dynamic lighting in the lower third of shelves tends to do the trick of attracting customers and having them linger around for longer and provide high opportunities of potential sales. As a rule, (regardless of the height level) shelf integrated lighting should be incorporated. The way that light is directed onto shelves is also crucial: wide-area backlighting of shelves produces a better effect than accent lighting only. A combination of backlighting and accent lighting makes identification of merchandise easier the products more appealing.

As the advanced and personalised retail space grows and the industry booms, many aspects of retail design are emerging and it will be safe to say that the future of lighting is bright indeed.

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