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retail lighting design

#9 – 5 Steps to set up your Retail Lighting Design

5 Steps to set up your Retail Lighting Design


In setting up your retail establishment, you have to answer a lot of questions regarding the store layout and the overall design of the space. Where should you place the products to attract more customers? How can you highlight certain areas within the space? What do you need to do to present the exact brand experience you want customers to feel?

Aside from planning the position of equipment and furniture, you should also think about the retail lighting layout for your store. This will set the ambiance and the overall appearance of your establishment.


Here are the steps to follow in setting up a successful retail lighting design for your store.


Before you set up the retail lighting design for your store, you have to understand first the purpose of each type of lighting. The different kinds of lighting you see in stores can all be grouped into just 4 categories:


a) Accent lighting

This type of retail lighting solution highlights areas or items in your store in a dramatic way. They make products and specific locations inside the shop pop out and draw customer attention.

Accent lighting can be put on shelves, windows, or walls – anything or anywhere in the store you want to give importance to is applicable. It can be installed behind shelves as a backlight for more subtle illumination, or on the front as a spotlight to brighten corners.


b) Task lighting

This kind of lighting is designed to brighten a spot and enable certain tasks to be accomplished easier. Their purpose is to illuminate an area more than any other kind of lighting can do.

Service desks, checkout counters, dressing rooms, office spaces, stockrooms, and warehouses are the areas where you can see task lighting work its magic. These locations need bright lights to make it more convenient for staff and customers to do what they need to do.


c) Ambient lighting

Ambient lighting is the general light source used inside the store. It fills the gap between task and accent lighting fixtures and keeps every corner lit. It provides enough light to ensure customers see everything around them and give them a sense of security.

Ambient lighting also helps set the mood of the place. The overall softness or brightness of the space can be defined using ambient lighting without interfering with the effects created by task and accent lighting.


d) Decorative lighting

This kind of lighting usually involves eye-catching fixtures with the main function of adding aesthetic value to your store. They’re often flexible as they can be used either as an ambient, accent, or task lighting.



In drawing your retail lighting layout, compute the total floor area that needs to be illuminated. According to the Lighting Research Center, ambient lighting should provide around 1.5 to 2.5 lumens per cubic foot.

To determine the total amount of brightness your store needs, you have to compute for the dimensions of the space. You then multiply the dimensions with 2.5 lumens which is the maximum recommended brightness to illuminate a space. The result you’ll get is the total amount of lumens you need to adequately light up the whole space.

To maximize the retail lighting layout, it’s recommended to place the light fixtures no more than 6 feet apart from each other. The distancing between fixtures will depend on the effect you want to exhibit and on the type of lighting employed.



Before you choose the design of the light fixture, learn first the kind of light source you need for your store. A luxurious chandelier means nothing if it can’t provide the right amount of light to your target area.

The color and the brightness of the light source will set the atmosphere you want to express inside the store. An inappropriate choice can create brand inconsistency or worse, poor customer experience that can impact business reputation.

The warmness and coolness of the light source are defined by the color temperature measured in Kelvin (K); you can see this value in the box of the light lamps or bulbs you’re buying. According to retail lighting guidelines, the higher the value of K, the whiter the color of the light emitted.

If you’re aiming to create a softer, warmer, and more intimate setting, aim for a light source with low Kelvin value. If you want a crisper tone that mimics natural lighting, look for products with a higher Kelvin value.

Fig. 1. Longchamp store (Source: Baseline)
Fig. 1. Longchamp store (Source: Baseline)

You can mix and match the color temperature of your store, but establishments often utilize only one tone to maintain brand consistency.

A light source’s brightness is measured in lumens. The higher the lumens value, the brighter the light emitted by the bulb or lamp. This value can be used as a retail lighting guideline in determining how bright you want your store to be.

Salesmen often use the wattage to describe the brightness of a light fixture. Sadly, this scale is inaccurate because there are different types of light bulbs that emit different brightness levels despite having the same wattage. Wattage is used to describe power consumption and not the brightness of a fixture.

Light bulbs, lamps, and strips come in different forms, but they can all be categorized under 4 types. Here are the types of light bulb commonly available in the market:


  • Incandescent lights

They’re affordable and give a warm color in every direction, making them a good choice for ambient lighting. The downside is that they’re not energy-efficient and have short lifespans.

Because of their low energy-efficiency, most of them are being pulled out of shelves. Some countries are even banning their use in an effort toward greener energy consumption.


  • Halogen lights

Halogen lights are like the upgraded version of incandescent lights. Their wide range of color temperature makes them the best for accent and task lighting. However, they’re less energy-efficient and have a shorter lifespan compared to other bulb types.


  • LED lights

LED lights are very versatile since they can be utilized either for task, accent, or ambient lighting. They also come in various shapes, sizes, and designs, which is why businesses often use them in their retail lighting layout.

In terms of lifespan and energy-efficiency, they’re way better compared to the other retail lighting solutions. They also come in a wide range of brightness, temperature, and color. However, they’re the most expensive among the four kinds of lighting.


  • Fluorescent lights (CFLs)

CFLs are popular retail lighting solutions for ambient lighting. They’re available in tube and bulb options and operate a full range of color temperatures. In terms of cost, lifespan, and energy-efficiency, they sit between halogen lights and LED bulbs.


After you’ve identified the kind of light source you need, it’ll be easier to select the kind of fixture where you want to put it. Just make sure the retail lighting design remains consistent with your store’s theme and branding.



After choosing the type of fixture you need, how many of them are required for your space, and where to place them in your store, you can now start estimating the total costs of your proposed retail lighting design.

Depending on your budget, you may need to replace or remove the retail lighting design of your store. You may have to look for alternative light fixtures that are more affordable and easier to service.

Also, consider the cost of wiring, retrofitting, and installation of the lights. Make extra room for service, maintenance, and changes too to avoid delays in implementing your plan.



Now, all that’s left is to execute the plan for your retail lighting design and see how it works. You may still have to do a few adjustments to get the perfect effect you’ve envisioned.

Don’t be afraid to make changes to your retail lighting design. Trends change from time to time, so keep yourself updated with the latest styles that attract customer attention.


You can set up the retail lighting layout yourself, but it would be better if you get the help of a professional retail lighting solutions provider like Baseline Lighting Design Studio. Our team at Baseline Lighting can assist you in the simulation, management, installation, operation, and maintenance of the light fixtures in your store.

If you want a hassle-free setup, send us a message and let’s discuss how we can make your store more inviting to customers through retail lighting design.



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