Lighting Your Retail Store Effectively

Interior and exterior commercial retail lighting play an important role in every stores success. Exterior lights help people locate the store at night and assist in branding the establishment.

Interior lights provide general lighting and also bring out the color in merchandise which helps prompt a buying decision. When carefully chosen and properly installed, interior ambient and accent lighting increase the marketability and sales of products.

Because profit margins on all but the most expensive products are often marginal, overhead is the retailers biggest challenge. Always try to combine energy efficiency with superior luminance and lifespan when choosing lights for your retail clients.

Taking the time to comprehensively develop a multi-layered lighting system will both differentiate your clients and your work from that of lesser, competing lighting design firms.


Aesthetics plays a critical role in commercial exterior retail lighting. Clients often judge the type of experience they will have inside a store by the appearance of the exterior and landscape.

Quality sign, walls or above entrances lighting is a must for any retail establishment. Goosenecks are excellent fixtures for this effect.

If the store is a standalone, it will need both building lights and canopy lights to properly illuminate its form and entranceways. Fluorescents are usually the fixtures to use for exterior retail lighting due to longer lamp life and high energy efficiency ratings.

Your clients will pay less per month for their use and experience very infrequent maintenance and replacement costs. Parking lot lights can be either general or decorative, depending on the nature of the establishment.

Make certain you meet mandatory foot candle requirements, pay close attention to the contrast of light and shadow that your lighting system establishes. This is a critical factor to safety than foot candle levels, and a very good reason to invest in a professional lighting photometric analysis.

Ambient Interior Lighting

Ambient light is another term for general light. The level of ambient lighting in a store is determined by two things.

First, the physical size will of course play a big role in the overall luminance the overhead lights will be able to shine throughout the building. Extremely large wholesale and grocery stores with high ceilings will need either high bay or low bay lights.

The newer pulse start metal halide lights offer superior energy ratings and make for very good retail lights in these environments. For retailers on a budget, or for ceilings under 25 feet in height, fluorescent low bay lights can be used instead.

Department stores, clothing stores, and smaller food stores can also be lit very effectively with parabolic troffer fluorescent lights. Retail discounts stores can use a series of parabolic fluorescents for general overhead lighting, and then selectively employ accent lights to draw attention to items on sale or special interest.

Accent Interior Lighting

Accent lighting sets a special product or group of products apart from the rest of the merchandise. Because of this, accent retail lighting plays an important role in the success of almost every retail establishment, regardless of size or product type.

Of course, its most important role is in high end retail lighting. Accent lighting helps differentiate unique qualities of products on display that require special attention and a sense of being set apart from the surrounding environment.

The lower the ambient lighting is, the brighter the accent lighting becomes, and the more removed an object appears from general reality. Jewelers and designer clothing retailers use this form of extreme contrasts between ambient and accent lighting to give a surreal appearance to merchandise.

A wide variety of recessed lights are often utilized for retail accent lighting. Adjustable fixtures are better because they allow managers to periodically change displays and readjust the lights to compliment the new setting.

Pendants are also very good retail lights to use over any display that is fixed in a central position within a store.

Designer Interior Lighting

Special display lights are often required in custom shelving and display cases. Linear strip lights for retail lighting are superb for jewelry, accessories, and specialty item displays. They can be mounted to the interiors of specialty display cases, or they can be mounted to the undersurfaces of shelves.

RLLD Commercial Lighting offers energy efficient tennis court lighting and parking lot lighting sales.