grocery store lighting

How Grocery Store Lighting Impacts Customer Decisions

Lighting is a well-known influencer in consumer shopping and spending habits, and in the grocery space there are fresh opportunities awaiting brands that see the value of investment in the latest LED technology.

This environment, like many other retail shopping spaces, is one where subtle changes in appearance can make a meaningful and often measurable impact on customers’ perceptions of the store and brand as well as their overall shopping experience. Grocery store lighting plays such an important role that more and more leading brands throughout the world have been conducting studies and research into how certain types of lighting impact customers’ behavior and ultimate buying decisions.

In a grocery store lighting study, researchers lit half of a supermarket with LED lighting and the other half with traditional fluorescent lighting. Over a 21-week period, the LED-lit side of the store sold 2 percent more products per customer. In another study, a German grocery retailer experimented with colored lights in a promotional area, leveraging LED’s superior color rendering index (CRI) and full-gamut options to increase consumer interest. This led to a 6% increase in sales from products in that area.

While store layouts, design, product displays, and other features certainly influence customers’ buying behaviors, grocery store lighting is one of the most consistent and proven ways to catch their eye and activate their senses. And, thanks to the ongoing developments in LED lighting technology, grocery store lighting is more flexible and adjustable than ever — enabling brands to adjust fixtures, lighting direction, color temperature, brightness, and more to support new products and layout shifts.

Why Grocery Store Lighting Should Be a Top Focus

Consumer spending on food has been dramatically shifting over the past few years. According to the Economic Research Service under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, consumers spend 9.5% of their disposable income on food (split between food-at-home at 4.9 percent and food-away-from-home at 4.6 percent). While food-at-home spending is still greater than spending on food-away-from-home, the paradigm is shifting rapidly. Income spent on food-at-home is drastically decreasing versus food-away-from-home. And with consumers’ spending on food declining overall despite rising incomes, grocery store retailers are now battling dining establishments for their share.

And let’s not forget about how the pandemic caused grocery store buying to shift. According to a new study by grocery e-commerce specialist Mercatus and research firm Incisiv, online grocery shopping is expected to increase dramatically to 21.5% of total U.S. grocery sales by 2025, more than doubling the channel’s current share of the grocery market. While grocery retailers rapidly implemented online shopping into their strategies even before the pandemic, it’s critical to remember that many consumers still prefer in-store shopping. In the above research, 78 percent of shoppers surveyed said they still prefer to visit brick-and-mortar stores, whether to shop in-store or for curbside pickup.

Additionally, in one of the above research studies, grocery stores stated that they still preferred fluorescent lighting over more up-to-date LED lighting solutions. Whether that’s due to replacement cost aversion or some other circumstance, an investment in more contemporary and energy-efficient LED lighting is a secure one. That’s because it’s an investment in human nature. We respond better to the more natural light features of LED and its color capabilities. Let’s explore some of these now and how they contribute to a more effective grocery store lighting strategy.

Key Advantages of LED for Grocery Store Lighting

LED Lighting Mimics Natural Lighting

Natural lighting is an ideal strategy because it’s how we see the real world outside the store. And for grocery store lighting, that means matching the display of food products with how we see them in our homes and elsewhere, making them look more natural and thus more appealing. High-CRI LED lighting with color temperatures around 5200K, the equivalent of daylight around noon, is as natural as artificial lighting gets. Utilizing LED lighting — in produce areas particularly — that is adjusted to mimic natural lighting showcases products in ways that resonate with shoppers.

LED Lighting Can Help Preserve Freshness

When it comes to produce in particular, LED lighting plays a key role beyond illumination alone. In addition to showcasing produce in the best light possible, LED lighting can be low- or no-heat, which is critical to produce freshness and also prevents issues in coolers. Additionally, because LED light mimics natural daylight, it promotes freshness and can even help to extend the shelf life of produce, saving grocery retailers on wasted product costs and from having to buy more produce. By keeping produce fresh longer and ensuring it’s safer for customers (something that should be marketed in-stores for those grocery retailers using bacteria-killing LEDs), customers are more likely to be drawn to those items and to make a purchase.

LED Lighting Accentuates Color

Thanks to the flexibility of LED lighting, produce displays and stands, promotional products, bakeries, foreign foods, cafes, wines, and countless other sections of a grocery store layout can be enhanced with color. Different CRI levels can be used to achieve a warmer or cooler effect, highlighting and strengthening the natural color of those products and making them more appealing to shoppers.

LED Lighting Saves on Energy and Associated Costs

And last but certainly not least is energy savings. Because of the way LED lights generate and distribute illumination, they don’t need to be replaced as often as other traditional lighting sources. This means you spend less dealing with equipment rentals or hiring service providers to swap them out. LED technology also enables more automated sensing options, allowing certain spaces throughout the facility to be unlit when people aren’t present. These solutions can help to reduce energy costs dramatically over time.

Additionally, older light sources like high intensity discharge (HID) lamps often put out excess energy that simply isn’t needed, creating wasted energy, ineffectively lighting key spaces that would benefit from more targeted illumination, and increasing your energy costs. With an LED retrofit, existing fixtures can be upgraded to produce better-quality light that keeps customers happy while also reducing your energy bill.

It’s Time to Take Stock on Your Lighting Opportunities

For consumers, grocery store environments are often overwhelming. With more and more consumers looking to utilize online shopping, now is the time to remind them why coming into the grocery store can be a positive, memorable experience. Leveraging the power and customization of LED lighting in your environment can do exactly that. Even if you already have an LED solution in place, how can you take it further to drive sales higher, engage with your customers more deeply, and make the most strategic use of your space?

At Stratus, we’ve been working with grocery store brands nationwide for decades. As one of the largest brand implementation companies with a dedicated energy division, we offer a full suite of solutions ranging from LED upgrades and retrofits and electrical installation to intelligent control systems. You’ll receive a single point of contact for your grocery store lighting initiative who will leverage advanced technology and proven program management capabilities to keep you informed at all times — and your project moving forward swiftly.

And with a national field partner network of more than 2,300 vetted contractors and service providers, our team will support your lighting needs from coast to coast — whether you have a dozen locations or a few hundred. Everything we offer is designed to transform infinite possibilities into ideal solutions that keep your brand top of mind.

Ready to take your grocery store lighting to the next level? Connect with us today.