We’re six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, and now, businesses, governments, and everyday people have realized that this is the new normal – at least for the foreseeable future. Make no mistake: we’re still in the middle of this pandemic but it does seem, more and more, that we may be nearer to the end than the beginning. The COVID-19 pandemic drove customers away from stores, shut down businesses, and ground the global economy to a screeching halt. But now, as healthcare restrictions have begun to ease, most businesses are chomping at the bit to reopen their doors, even as most people have begun resuming parts of their regular life. But in an anxious and tentative post-coronavirus environment, reopening your store isn’t as simple as flipping over your open-for-business sign. Even with these rolled back restrictions, 67% of people still aren’t comfortable visiting a retail clothing store, and 78% are not comfortable sitting down at a restaurant. Fear and anxiousness are the last emotions that business owners want customers to associate with their physical stores once offline retail shopping starts again. So now that the world has begun to return, retailers must think strategically to prevent temporary disruption from becoming a permanent end. Ensuring an in-store environment that makes shoppers feel safe is critical to drawing people back in, and while safety measures such as distanced-shopping, sanitizing, no-touch retail go a long way to reassuring customers of a safe shopping experience, there’s more that store owners can do to convince customers of their absolute safety.
Enhance safety while increasing brand impactConsciously or otherwise, a key factor that determines whether passers-by will go into a store is the perception that it is safe. One way for stores to feel welcoming and safe is appropriate lighting. Several studies have indicated findings that support the narrative that LED lighting helps make people feel safer because people are able to monitor their surroundings more effectively. Even if a store has great products and solutions to offer, if it is not well lit it could potentially lose multiple customers. Effective backlighting solutions can bring a new dynamic and will help to establish your store as the place to go for regular shopping trips. Proper lighting can drive customers to spend more time in your store, spend more money, and have a higher chance of returning to your store. These customers will most likely even recommend your store to their friends and loved ones, simply because they looked and felt great. According to a study conducted by researchers at the Royal Institute of Technology, a shop’s brightness is significant for consumers, but so are colour temperature and rendering. Lighting plays a significant role in fashioning a space that will attract your customers. Plus, safety doesn’t have to come at the expense of brand impact. With well-lit LED light boxes or snap frames, it is possible to increase store illumination and enhance brand appeal.
Design is defined by light and shade, and appropriate lighting is enormously important.-Albert HadleyUnfortunately, most retail store designers limit themselves to thinking about downlighting as the only form of illumination in a store. This approach, however, is extremely restrictive as backlighting offers far more visual options to leverage. Illuminated display units, feature backlit walls, shelves as accents-no matter the form, backlighting has one primary role: to create visual focal points that draws the eye into the space. This visual layer can work towards the expression of a brand and give it character, and when used alongside architectural lighting it can be a cost-effective way to fit-out a large store with an impactful brand standard. Essentially, every store lighting designer must remember a simple truth: lighting has evolved and is now much more than mere ceiling downlights and needs to incorporate backlighting to create a more fully encompassing store environment.