Savings That Sparkle

by Katie Lee

LED lighting upgrades benefit retailers’ brands and bottom lines.

By Ryan Rodau

With nearly 4 million retail stores in the United States alone, according to the National Retail Federation, the saturated industry landscape in conjunction with operational considerations challenges shop owners and retail designers alike to stay on the cutting edge of the latest trends and technology. As technologies, including lighting technologies, continue to evolve and shape consumer buying behaviors, retailers are learning new and inventive ways to differentiate themselves from competitors.

Although navigating the influx of emerging technologies can sometimes appear daunting, selecting the appropriate retail lighting system doesn’t have to be difficult. From customized merchandising and displays to creating the ideal brand image and experience, retail lighting design plays a more crucial role than ever in attracting a new and loyal customer base.

Navigating LED Technology

While light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are not an entirely new technology, their expansion into general lighting applications continues to transform the landscape of retail lighting. Offering more specialty lighting options than conventional lighting systems, LED allows retailers the ability to customize their store environments and displays, with the aim of encouraging consumers to linger and ultimately spend more.

From accent lighting that emphasizes product shape, color and texture, to ambient lighting that can help improve a customer’s sense of comfort, LEDs deliver rich, vibrant color without fading or discoloring merchandise. For store exteriors, LED technology provides uniform brightness and color rendering across signage applications for a consistent brand image, and evenly illuminates parking lots and garages to help create a feeling of security and a warm invitation to customers.

Proper lighting systems can be particularly important for specialty retailers like clothing and jewelry stores, where brand and image are key to maximizing consumer purchasing behavior. One such example is Midwestern retailer Riddle’s Jewelry, which used LED lighting to bring a new sparkle to its selection of fine rings, pendants and gemstones while creating an elegant, inviting atmosphere for shoppers.

Making ‘Dollars and Sense’ of LED

In addition to aesthetic improvements and endless application possibilities provided by LED, property managers and retail store owners can benefit from its exceptionally long life, as well as reduced maintenance time and labor associated with continually relamping legacy systems.

RetailLEDLighting GroceryRiddle’s Jewelry, in particular, realized a 20% to 25% savings in annual store lighting costs after upgrading from previous halogen lamps to an energy-efficient LED lighting solution. After installing PAR38 LED replacement lamps in its 57 locations, Riddle’s expects its energy savings alone to total about $100,000 a year, and will also benefit from reduced maintenance costs as the result of longer-lived LED technology. 

Each Riddle’s Jewelry location houses between 80 and 210 spotlight fixtures, depending on store size. At locations that have used LED replacement lamps for more than 1 year, Riddle’s has seen lighting energy cost savings between $100 and $150 a month in smaller stores (80 to 100 fixtures) and from $175 to $225 in larger stores (up to 210 fixtures), based on a $0.10 per kilowatt hour rate and 4,000 hours of operation annually.

These savings are also the result of reduced loads on building cooling systems; each Riddle’s store, even those in colder climates, typically runs its air conditioning throughout most of the year. The new LED replacement lamps stay much cooler than the previous halogen lamps. 

Further, rebate opportunities from local utilities available in some store locations have resulted in a fast payback.    

“With rebates, we expect a 14-month ROI per store,” says Dan Casanova, vice president of Riddle’s Jewelry. “In locations with no rebates, payback becomes 20 to 22 months, which is still a good return. Store managers have been amazed the way the bright, white LED lighting accentuates the natural brilliance of the diamonds. With halogen, they looked good. With LED, they look amazing.”

LED lighting allows retailers to create custom merchandising displays and welcoming store environments, contributing to the overall consumer experience while slashing energy and maintenance costs with long-lasting, energy-efficient technology. When making the switch to LED, a trusted advisor can help retailers navigate the appropriate lighting technology for their store’s needs.

— Ryan Rodau is retail marketing manager for GE Lighting. He has 14 years of overall lighting experience and started working with LEDs for commercial applications in 2001. He can be reached at [email protected].

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