The Do's and Don'ts of LED Retail Lighting

The Do's and Don'ts of LED Retail Lighting

Sale posters and coupons aren’t the only ways to make sales. You can use lights to your advantage, too. LED retail lighting can be used to create an environment that makes shoppers feel welcome and caters to their needs and expectations. Use LED store lighting to draw people in, to keep them focused, to guide them throughout your store, and to save money. There are so many ways that the right lighting can be beneficial to customer satisfaction and sales. Take a look at the following list of do’s and don’ts to achieve store lighting that will help you reach your goals.

Do consider the basics

There’s more to effective LED retail lighting than meets the eye. Creating an efficient lighting system that looks how you want while promoting products, making customers feel comfortable, and, in turn, increasing sales involves knowing the technical details of potential bulbs and fixtures. These details include efficacy, color-rendering index (CRI), correlated color temperature (CCT), and intensity.



In the past, the brightness of incandescent, halogen, fluorescent, or high-intensity discharge (HID) lights was measured by wattage. Now, a common method for measuring brightness is lumens. The higher the lumens, the brighter the bulb. Comparable wattage is always listed on our product pages for compatible products. If you’re upgrading from incandescent to LED and want a bulb or fixture that’s similar in brightness, you can use lumens for an estimate of what incandescent wattage would be. Simply remove the last number of the lumen value. The number that’s left represents estimated incandescent wattage. As an example, an LED light that emits 600 lumens is approximately as bright as a 60-watt incandescent bulb.



As a business owner or manager, you’re most likely concerned with getting the biggest bang for your buck. By paying attention to efficacy, you can make sure that you get the most light for the amount of power the bulb or fixture consumes. Efficacy is the amount of visible light that is produced with a certain amount of power (watts). You can determine the efficacy of a product by dividing its lumens by the watts it consumes. For example, a bulb that emits 480 lumens and consumes eight watts of power (480/8) has an efficacy of 60 lumens per watt. A bulb with this efficacy would be a much better option than one that emits 480 lumens at 12 watts.



It’s important to show products as they are, especially when it comes to clothing or food. This means choosing lights that are designed not to distort colors. Lights with high CRIs are crucial for this. CRI indicates how accurately a light source reveals the true colors of objects, people, clothing, etc. when compared to how colors are shown in incandescent light or daylight. The closer a light’s CRI is to 100 (the CRI of incandescent light or daylight), the better the color rendition of whatever is under that light.

If something appears to be the wrong color, it can drastically impact sales. Food and clothing are the most likely to be passed up if they don’t look how people expect. Take for instance a red shirt that looks almost orange or a vegetable that looks dull in color. These items are going to lack the appeal of bright, accurately colored products.



CCT indicates the hue and tone of white light emitted from a specific bulb or fixture. CCT is measured in Kelvins (K), which is similar to degrees in Celsius. Different temperatures on the Kelvin scale represent different colors. For example, light at 2000K-3500K looks more orange/yellow and is called ultra warm or warm white, and as temperature increases in Kelvins, color changes to more of a “paper white” known as natural or neutral white (between 3500K and 5100K) and finally into a bluish-white known as cool white (5100K+).

Do use lighting to set the mood

The color temperature you choose will depend on the mood and shopping experience you want to give your customers. A retailer like Hollister for instance, who strives to create a laid-back, relaxed atmosphere, utilizes warm white and even ultra-warm white lights. Add on the cozy furniture setup and music and it’s clear that the goal is to get customers to hang out, relax, and spend more time in their store. Logic says that the more time you spend in a store, the higher the chances are that you’ll buy something.

Bed Bath and Beyond, on the other hand, uses a different approach to make sales. Their stores are filled with bright natural white light to showcase the wide variety of products that they offer. Customers are going to struggle in a store like BBB if it’s dimly lit. Knowing whether or not a shirt looks good is a lot different than buying new pots and pans. Dim light is flattering and more forgiving when customers are trying on clothes, but it won’t help you read whether or not your pans are dishwasher safe or scratch resistant. The lighting you choose should mesh well with the products you’re trying to sell. Using lighting to set the mood is a great idea so long as that mood doesn’t impact a customer’s ability to shop.


Do use lighting to draw people in and to draw attention to areas or products

One of any retailer’s main goals when choosing lighting is to make sales. Use light to your advantage when trying to highlight certain things or create visual appeal. Make it obvious where new arrivals or sale items are. Use light to create a path that will guide customers through your entire store. Use LED sign modules for your store window or LED light boxes that feature your products. Anything unique, whether it’s cove lighting, lighting under a set of shelves, decorative light fixtures, or simply how you arrange your lights, is more likely to catch someone’s eye.

Do change lighting when floor plan or merchandise changes

If your floor plan is constantly changing, it might be best to install a retail lighting system that can be changed as well. Track lights or gimbal and eyeball can lights can all be aimed in different directions. Depending on the products you’ll be displaying, you might also want to order new bulbs of varying intensities or color temperatures for these fixtures.


Don’t forget any areas

There are numerous places that are easy to overlook when planning your retail lighting project. Don’t forget the fitting rooms. This is where shoppers ultimately decide if a clothing item will work for them. Natural or warm white light is best, and a high-CRI LED light will show colors most accurately.

Illuminate aisles to guide customers through the store. Shoppers shouldn’t feel like they’re lost in a maze. Give them a sense of direction to know how to get where they want to go.

Don’t make it hard for customers to leave your store. Use LED light bulbs for exit sign backlighting and spotlighting. These lights are especially important during power outages or in emergencies.

If you’re putting your products on shelves, overhang from other shelves can cause shadows or limit light to the area. LED strip lights are a great solution for this. They have adhesive backings for easy installation, and most can be cut to fit the area that needs lighting. If you’re not crazy about the look of a strip under your shelves or if you want to eliminate hot spots (bright points of light), you can create your own LED strip light fixture using an aluminum channel and diffusing lens.

Make sure the checkout and customer service areas can be found easily in your store. Use different lighting or more lighting to make it stand out. Get creative with LED strip light fixtures around the counter, an edge-lit sign, or a custom-printed LED light box.

You might think that your parking lot has nothing to do with sales, but that is incorrect. If your parking lot is dimly lit, your store is not only less visible, but it’s also not as safe as it could be. A poorly lit parking lot can make customers feel uncomfortable and can lead to accidents. It can also be a problem for capturing security footage.

Don’t overdo it

While the right lighting can be beneficial in many ways, it’s important to know what’s too much. Don’t overwhelm shoppers with bright lights everywhere, too many unique lighting products, or too many colors; they can be distracting.


Don’t use the same level of light for everything

Choose what you want your LED lights to illuminate. Back stock, for instance, doesn’t need to be lit. It’s important that you properly light what’s immediately visible to your customers, but don’t worry about what is not meant to be seen. You may want to use different lighting to draw customers toward certain items, such as new arrivals. You’re also most likely going to want to choose different LED lighting for fitting rooms.


Don’t forget about glare or reflections

Lighting is just as much about how you’re using a bulb or fixture as it is about the product you’re using. If your goal is to create an inviting atmosphere that helps customers shop effectively, it’s best not to aim lights in their faces. Lights should be aimed at or placed above what you’re trying to sell and where you’re trying to direct customers. Take into consideration the location of any glass or reflective surfaces. If possible and if necessary, lights should also have diffusing covers or lenses. Be careful not to forget your parking lot lights. If outdoor lighting isn’t properly aimed or shielded, it can cause glare—affecting driver visibility. Depending on the color temperature and positioning of LED parking lot or building lights, it’s also possible to pollute the night sky and disrupt our ecosystem. 

To see more retail lighting options, visit our site. Although many LED lights for retail settings can be found in our commercial lighting category, indoor and outdoor LED lights can also be found in our strips and barslight boxhome, and landscape categories.

July 13, 2017