Whether it’s facing on to the city high street, or the crowded mall, the quiet courtyard or the airport departure terminal decently illuminated shop window makes a good starting point for understanding the role of lighting in retail world. Lighting places a key role as the shop window acts both as a frontier, separating street from retail space, and as a visual entrance, displaying the goods on sale making a statement about the kind of shop it fronts.
A well-lit retail environment makes for a positive shopping experience. It should highlight merchandise, attract and guide customers into and through the store, provide visual comfort, lead customers through merchandise areas safely.
Lighting solutions for each store will vary depending on the target market, store concept and functional needs of the space; Low End (e.g. discount/overstock warehouses, mass merchandisers, wholesale clubs, supermarkets, “big box” retailers), Middle (e.g. department stores, large bookstores, better mass merchandisers, grocery superstores) & High End (e.g. exclusive boutiques, fashion, designer label and specialty stores) . Regardless of the space or area being illuminated, the design scheme usually employs a “layered” approach, combining the three basic categories of lighting: Ambient lighting, Accent or Task lighting and Decorative.
Good retail lighting design is a balance between the three areas Human Needs (Visibility, Task performance, Visual comfort, Safety), Environmental and Economic Issues (Cost of lighting system ownership, Energy costs, Sustainability) and Architectural (Lighting systems complement building design). Nevertheless the success of any kind of store depends on inventive skills of the designer, which can be enhanced by careful design and use of light fittings.