Retailers Light up the Holidays with LEDs

Jay Black, VP of Development & Communications
Revolution Lighting Technologies

‘Tis the season for festive lighting, longer store hours and everyone’s favorite, costly energy bills. Retailers know this struggle all too well as the combination of extra lighting displays and energy needed to keep stores open longer often results in added energy costs building up between the months of November and January. The holidays can put a damper on energy expenses but it is possible for retail facility managers to cut costs while keeping stores ‘merry and bright’ with the help of solid-state LED lighting solutions. We’ve seen LEDs take over the holiday light sections with strands of colorful LED lights giving off a brighter glow, but where the real energy savings come from is a store’s overhead lighting, and LEDs offer the best solution for reducing energy costs.

RVLTEfficiency Means Lower Energy Costs
According to a report from the Retail Industry Leaders Association[1] with insight from Energy Star, retailers are spending approximately $21 billion each year in energy expenses[2] to keep store lights on. Over $3 billion of these costs could be reduced or completely avoided[3] creating the perfect opportunity for retailers to introduce new lighting technologies that have been designed to reduce energy consumption.

LEDs provide retail establishments with numerous economical and environmental benefits, but perhaps the most important for energy savings is the technology’s increased efficiency. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that LED lighting solutions provide higher efficiency when compared to traditional lighting options, proving to be 60 percent more efficient than florescent lighting technologies, and up to 85 percent more efficient than incandescent or halogen lighting. To enhance efficiency even further, many LEDs offer a high level of controllability to better utilize energy as needed and reduce energy waste. Controls such as dimming, occupancy sensing, daylighting, and color tuning coupled with compatible LEDs provides precision for specific lighting needs. For example, basic control solutions such as occupancy sensors that turn lighting off when not in use can improve lighting efficiency by an additional 10-20%.

Less Maintenance Needed Means More Help on Retail Floors
As we all know, lights can’t last forever and lighting replacements during the holiday season are frustrating for a multitude of reasons; Lighting solutions can be costly to replace when needed frequently, the required maintenance ultimately pulls staff off of the floor and away from customer service, and the replacement process is time consuming which is a hindrance during the busy holiday season. It’s important for retail establishments to incorporate technologies with a solid construction that offers a longer lifespan with greater lumen maintenance for consistent light quality. Investing in quality lighting technologies lets the staff keep their focus where it needs to be, attentive to the customers and on the store shelves. Technologies such as fluorescents may promise retailers 20,000 hours of life however, the lighting quality is not always consistent throughout the expected life span. It’s quite common for fluorescents to loose approximately 30 percent of their lumen maintenance by the time the light has reached 5,000 hours, giving retailers the quality they expect for only a quarter of the technology’s live-span. LEDs on the other hand, help retailers establish a longer life-span at 100,000 hours and ninety-two percent lumen maintenance, providing shoppers with a long-lasting, better experience.  Greater light out put and longer life-span allow for fewer lighting changes and ultimately less time spent on maintenance.

Reducing cost even further for retail establishments is the physical construction of these advanced LED technologies which have been designed to complement the longevity of LED lighting output. LED lighting is designed without the use of glass to provide an extremely durable and reliable solution throughout the technology’s life-span with durability that reduces the need for frequent replacement efforts that can be timely and costly. In addition, since the construction is built for longevity, many LEDs offer a 10-year warranty providing retail facility managers with the added comfort that their investment will achieve the expected results for at least a decade, if not longer. Simultaneously, for those establishments that are taking steps to introduce more sustainable practices into their business models, LEDs are often constructed with 100% recyclable materials as they do not contain mercury like their fluorescent counterparts.

Keeping Customers Healthy and Happy
While artificial light is necessary in large retail facilities, scientific findings have now revealed the potential impact of light on individual health, well-being and comfort. Creating a shopping environment that takes into consideration the physical and mental health of customers and aims to replicate “natural light’ can lead to a better shopping experience.  When implementing new lighting for enhanced consumer experience, retail facility managers should take into consideration artificial lighting that accurately reflects the ‘full spectrum output’ of natural light. Among the cost and efficiency savings, LEDs offer the ability to maximize spectral adjustment through its diodes, giving facility managers the ability to manipulate lighting to closely replicate natural light.

Construction, design and lighting output all offer cost and efficiency benefits however, there are other aspects that retail facility managers should always consider prior to selecting an updated lighting technology. For example, efficacy, the measurement of the amount of light output versus wattage versus energy used, should always be considered as high efficacy values can equate to the greatest efficiency and light output.  When held against the customary performance standard of lumens-per-watt (lm/W), most LEDs are five to seven times more efficient than incandescent bulbs and 30-40 percent more efficient than standard fluorescents, exceeding 160 lm/W.

Facility managers should also consider correlated color temperature (CCT) which measures the light’s color appearance. Studies have shown that LED’s ranging from 6,000 K 8,000 K have the best biological impact on consumers, but is an undesirable light color, while 3,500 (neutral) to 5,500 (cool) were found through studies to be the most visually pleasing. CCT must be done in conjunction with proper color rendering (CRI) to ensure color within retail spaces are accurately depicted. Choosing LED product with a CRI of 80 or higher, measured on a scale of 1-100, is suggested. LEDs are able to easily achieve these CRI values, outpacing their fluorescent counterparts that typically offer only 52 to 75 CRI.

Advanced lighting solutions, and LEDs in particular, are brightening the season with their superior efficiency and cost savings when compared to traditional lighting solutions. Upgraded lighting technologies offer the potential to not only keep maintenance costs down and increase operational efficiency but to deliver helpful holiday ambiance to customers for years to come.

[1] https://www.rila.org/sustainability/RetailEnergyManagementProgram/Documents/EnergySavingOpportunities+TacticsforRetail.pdf

[2] Energy Star. Energy Star Building Upgrade Manual: Retail Stores. Chapter 13. (January 2008)

[3] Jamieson, Meriah. A $3 Billion Opportunity: Energy Management in Retail Operations. Schneider Electric. (2014).


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