Lighting Options by Space or Area

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 (Please double check these values with Sally Lee.) 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