Across the United States, thousands of retail businesses are giving up on artificial lighting in favor of cleaner, greener, and more efficient alternatives. Daylighting is now recognized as a great investment for retailers for a number of great reasons, ranging from improved sales to reduced energy bills.
Large and small retailers alike have given daylighting its chance, recognizing it as beneficial to their businesses. With well-known brands like Wal-Mart switching to natural lighting systems en masse, what is it that’s making daylighting so popular amongst retailers?
We looked at a variety of scientific studies and retail reports to work out how the country’s biggest retailers (as well as its many independent retailers) have made daylighting improve their revenue, enhance sales of specific items, and make their stores more appealing to customers.
1. Make sure your checkout counters are lit using natural light
Retail giant Wal-Mart ran a series of corporate experiments in energy efficiency during the 1990s. It installed natural daylighting systems in a variety of its stores and tracked the effect on sales, noticing that stores with natural lighting tended to attract more customers and generate more revenue than their counterparts.
A key part of Wal-Mart’s success story relates to the placement of skylights. While Wal-Mart placed most of its skylights evenly throughout the store, it made sure to keep checkout counters and entrances clearly lit to make them as appealing and welcoming as possible for customers.
2. Focus on natural light, but don’t be afraid to supplement it.
Natural light can reduce your energy bills and improve in-store visibility, but not all the time. If your retail store is open late in the evening, you will need to supplement your natural daylighting system with some form of artificial lighting.
Don’t be afraid to use artificial lighting in your store, even during the day. Many of the key benefits of daylighting remain even if you supplement natural light with an artificial lighting system. For optimum energy efficiency, you may want to operate your artificial lighting on a timer to compensate for lost natural light.
3. Spread daylight evenly using carefully placed skylights
Large retail stores can benefit hugely from natural light. However, the challenging logistics of spreading natural light throughout the large store can make daylighting seem more complicated – and in some cases, more expensive – than it really is.
By spreading your skylights evenly throughout your store, you can make sure that all areas are evenly lit and equally accessible. Many large stores supplement their daylighting systems with strategic artificial lighting to ‘bridge the gap’ in areas of their stores that are poorly lit or difficult to illuminate naturally.
4. Use natural light strategically to showcase certain products
During its daylighting experiment, Wal-Mart found that products stored in parts of the store lit using natural light sold better than those stored in under artificial light.
This odd fact has some real science behind it. Since daylight tends to be softer and less aggressive than artificial light, it can make many products look more appealing to customers than they would appear to be under artificial lighting.
In addition to this, the psychological benefits of natural light – a decline in the body’s output of stress hormones, in particular – might make customers more interested in buying products lit naturally.
5. Use filtering and curtains to reduce glare during peak daylight
Glare can be an annoyance for retail businesses, particularly those based in sunny areas. By installing UV filters and window film, you can reduce the amount of glare produced by your windows and skylight.
Retail stores that receive a large amount of sunlight can also benefit from installing blinds and curtains. This makes it far easier to enjoy the economic benefits of using natural light while avoiding lost sales and productivity due to glare.
“Image courtesy of Matthias Tunger/Jupiterimages.com”