Types Of Retail Lighting: How To Select The Best Option

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Lighting is integral to creating a successful retail experience. This powerful tool can be used to create a welcoming atmosphere in-store, draw attention to individual products, and lead the customer through the store to checkout. But with literally hundreds of commercial lighting products available, how do you select the right one for your store?

In this blog, we are going to explore the different types of lighting and how they can be deployed to create the best effect.

Types of retail lighting effects

The primary role of lighting in retail is to create a welcoming atmosphere in the store. This can be achieved by combining the following four lighting effects. The way they are combined will depend on the kind of atmosphere you wish to create.

Task lighting


Some areas of the store, such as the checkout and changing rooms, require higher lighting levels than the shop floor. These areas should be illuminated with specific task lighting that offers higher lumens than other areas.

Having brighter lights in these areas also makes it easier for customers to find the checkout and changing rooms. This is a particularly important role of task lighting that is often neglected in larger stores.

Ambient lighting

Ambient lighting is responsible for creating the overall atmosphere of the store, so you must get ambient lighting levels right. Too dark and the store looks dingy and too bright and customers will feel uncomfortable.

The right lighting levels are dependent on the size of the store, the height of the ceilings and the type of atmosphere you wish to create. There is no one size fits all here, so you should always consult an experienced lighting engineer to achieve the best results.

Decorative lighting


The primary role of decorative lighting is to highlight individual products. This can be done using either colour or feature light fittings, such as lanterns and pendants. Feature lighting effects can also be created using different coloured LED bulbs.

Accent lighting

Accent lighting should be used to either draw attention to products or create a warm welcoming atmosphere in the store. You often see this type of lighting used to highlight shelving or display cabinets, but it can be used anywhere.

For example, accent lighting is often used to highlight window displays. Low-cost lighting, such as LED lighting strips and coloured spots make it possible to create stunning displays at a relatively low cost that help to draw customers into your store.

Types of retail light fittings

Now you know more about the type of lighting effects and where they should be used. What type of lighting fittings do you need to create the desired effect? In this section, we’ll look at the types of light fittings available to help you make the right decision.

Recessed lighting

Recessed lighting is set into the ceiling and commonly used to illuminate a small/medium size area from above. Both fixed and adjustable units are available, which makes them suitable for both ambient and task lighting applications.

However, because recessed lights have a focused beam, they are not a cost-effective option for illuminating large areas. This lighting arrangement is most commonly found in smaller high-end stores, where it’s used to create a more intimate atmosphere.

Track lighting

Track lighting is one of the most versatile retail lighting units. They consist of several spots mounted on a track, allowing them to be adjusted at various angles. This makes them suitable for a range of uses including ambient, task, accent and decorative lighting.

Track lighting can be mounted on the ceiling or walls with spots available in a range of lumens to suit all applications. As a result, they are found everywhere from car showrooms to warehouse-style retail outlets and restaurants.

Pendant lighting

Pendant lights hang from the ceiling and are most commonly used as decorative lighting to illuminate countertops or display tables. However, there is no limit to their uses, as pendants of differing lengths can be mounted against a wall to create a nice feature, for example.

However, because pendant lights emit a low level of lumens, they are not the best option for illuminating large areas. They also need to be fixed to the ceiling so are not suitable for high-bay warehouse-style stores.

Wall lighting

Wall lights are ideal for both ambient and feature lighting applications. A range of styles is available that emit light in either vertical or horizontal directions. This allows lighting designers to create a wide range of visually stimulating designs.

However, wall lights can make the ceiling feel lower, which is an illusion that can make small spaces feel claustrophobic. They should therefore always be combined with other light solutions, such as track or recessed lighting, to get the best effect.

Under-cabinet/fixture lighting

Under-cabinet lighting consists of strips of LED lights that can be mounted along the edge of shelves, inside cabinets or across countertops. As a result, they are typically used as accent lighting to highlight products.

The main advantage of this type of lighting is that it can be mounted on any type of surface, including glass and curved surfaces. This gives lighting designers more freedom for installation.

To find out more about the types of lighting available or to arrange a quote for the installation of your retail lighting system, check out installation services.

Maintenance of retail lighting

One of the advantages of LED lighting is that it requires less maintenance than incandescent, halogen or fluorescent lighting.

However, LED lighting is not maintenance-free. The amount of light emitted from an LED decreases over time. This is accounted for by using the Lumen Lamp Maintenance Factor, which is defined as the amount of time it takes light levels to reach 70% of the initial output. These levels need to be checked regularly along with the general state of the electrical.

Need help with your retail lighting?

At Interlink Lighting & Electrical, we offer a comprehensive lighting and electrical maintenance program. We’ll work with you to create a proactive planned maintenance schedule that ensures your lighting systems are kept in good working order and that optimum lighting levels are maintained.

For more information about our retail light fitting service or to arrange an inspection of your electrical system, complete the contact form or give us a call on 0141 429 1254. Our fully trained technicians support all of Scotland and the north of England.