Sales & Merchandise Areas

The sales floor is where your brand comes to life. Proper lighting of your merchandising areas requires a careful balance of general lighting for overall “base” illumination and to create a feeling of spaciousness, plus accent and decorative lighting designed to direct the shoppers’ attention. Accent lighting needs to be flexible as store sets and products change. Racks and shelves can be lit from surface or recessed lighting in the ceiling, in tracks or incorporated into the shelves or display fixtures themselves. 

General Lighting
The general or “ambient” lighting of the merchandise area provides a broadly distributed uniform illuminance throughout the store. Luminaires are usually symmetrically arranged. The IESNA has established recommend illuminance levels depending on the type of store, its class of merchandise and the targeted clientele. 
A subset of the general lighting scheme is, perimeter lighting which provides the vertical wall wash illumination to define the boundaries of the merchandising space and give the perception of brightness and spaciousness. Perimeter lighting luminaires are typically recessed into the ceiling or hidden in architectural features: cornices, soffits and valences.  
Accent & Feature Lighting
With the exception of some mass merchandise and low end discount stores, most stores use accent lighting to draw attention to the store’s most important merchandise and attributes. The amount of accent lighting is directly connected to a store’s classification, image and branding. Because the human eye adapts to the ambient illumination in the store, its ability to distinguish fine details and features relative to the surroundings, is reduced. Shoppers are stimulated by the form, texture and color associated with products under good accent lighting. 
Design Tips:

The primary areas where accent and feature lighting comes into play are the display fixtures, racks, shelves and merchandising fixtures, such as:

    • Freestanding displays

    • Clothing displays

    • Shelf displays

    • Counter top displays

    • Showcases


Freestanding Displays

    • Provides the maximum opportunity for lighting design flexibility.

    • Flush, surface mounted or suspended luminaires can be located to produce highlights, shadows, or 3D effects.

    • Many luminaires accommodate color gels, diffusion filters and patterns for additional visual excitement.

Clothing Racks
Shelf & Gondola Displays

    • Patterns or concentrated circles of light can be accomplished using halogen, HID or LED lamps in adjustable recessed, track or mono-point luminaires.

    • Clothing racks in cased wall areas can be lit from above by concealed luminaires. Lighting should fully illuminate the clothing and render true colors and textures. Appearance of clothing should be the same on the rack AND in the fitting room.

    • Clothing racks in open areas should be lit with adjustable ceiling lights aimed obliquely and away from customers’ eyes at adjacent racks.

    • Illuminance on clothing racks should be greater than the general lighting in the traffic aisles between racks.

Countertop Displays

Merchandise on counter tops should receive three to five times. the illumination of traffic aisles and is usually achieved with focused down lights. Avoid creating glare in customers’ eyes.


Showcase merchandise generally requires three times the illuminance of that on general circulation area.
Attention must be given to using light sources with suitable color and color rendering characteristics, low heat buildup, and reduced IR and UV emissions. 

Decorative Lighting

Decorative lighting creates an ambiance and is most often used in high end specialty stores and designer boutiques. It should support, but not compete with, the general and accent lighting scheme or the merchandising displays.
Decorative lighting design incorporates:

    • Wall sconces

    • Chandeliers

    • Table and floor lamps

    • Torchieres 


Show Windows
Regardless of their store’s location, every retailer is competing for the consumer’s attention. With proper lighting your store window can break out of the mix. The window is the vital link between the potential buyer and the merchandise inside.  Accent lighting can be directed exactly where you want it, to highlight and to define your merchandise, and create stopping power that will make consumers want to come inside and invest themselves in the sales experience. 
Design Tips

Location of show windows is an important consideration:

    • Outdoor

    • Enclosed mall

    • Urban or suburban

    • Freestanding or shopping center/mall store

    • If daylight is a concern, dimming controls may need to be employed to compensate for changes in illuminance levels during the day and into the night.

    • By applying higher lighting levels to your display and avoiding dark rear walls in the background, you can avoid your window turning into a mirror.

    • Lighting system needs to be flexible  and hidden from the customer’s direct view.


Store Entrances

The store entrance is your “brand portal.” Shoppers should be drawn in by highlighted products and themed or seasonal merchandise. They should feel welcomed and enticed to explore further. First impressions about a store are often made at the entrance.

Design Tips

    • Lighting in entrances needs to complement the architecture, provide a sense of safety and should be balanced as compared with lighting in adjacent areas.

    • It should provide a safe attractive transition from outdoors or mall atrium into the merchandise area and the ability of one’s eyes to adapt from outdoor to indoor lighting conditions.

    • Attention needs to be given to supplementary adjustable accent lighting on entrance displays, and graphics.

    • If the entrance area includes an escalator, elevator or staircase, lighting must provide sufficient illuminance for safe passage or egress. 


Store Exteriors

Exterior lighting should help promote your brand image, by engaging and attracting customers. Highlighting your store’s unique architectural elements, signage and ID, facades, and thoroughfares will all contribute to presenting a positive corporate image.

Design Tips:

    • Exterior illumination for vehicular traffic and pedestrians is different from that used by pedestrians only, e.g. store exteriors inside a mall.

    • Exterior lighting must facilitate safe passage for motorists and pedestrians.

    • It should provide key illumination of entrances, exits, parking lots and pedestrian walkways.

    • It should enhance security surveillance of persons and property.

    • It should convey the image and ambiance of the retail outlet. 

Fitting Rooms
Point of Sale & Checkout
Additional Retail Space and Areas