Harnessing natural light is changing the way we shop due in part to the psychological benefits of incorporating natural light into the built environment. 

Natural lighting specialist, Solatube, has noticed an increase in demand from the retail sector and according to commercial manager, Darryl Wicks it’s like combining retail therapy with light therapy.

“It harks back to the 1990s when Wal-Mart began progressively replacing artificial lights with skylights and other natural light sources in many of their stores,” he said.

“Expecting to see their energy bills decline, they also found that natural light produced a large increase in sales for products in certain areas of their stores.”

Perth warehouse Spearwood Furniture is a large retail premises that saw its average daily energy consumption plummet from 241kWH to 95kWH, thanks to a complete overhaul by Solatube Commercial Daylighting Systems.

Now the retailer’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) costs have also been lowered, as the Solatube system produces significantly less heat than most high-bay light fittings.

“Energy efficiency goes well beyond reducing the electricity account and Spearwood has achieved that by providing natural daylight to enhance the shopping experience,” Wicks said.

“Staff have also commented on how the building is now a cooler place to work in, as a result of the removal of the heat produced by artificial lighting. The Solatube system provides the pinnacle of light input, colour consistency and the desired quality of light consistency day after day.”

A 2003 Heschong Mahone study in the US found evidence that good daylighting was found to increase sales by up to 40%. This research revealed that integrating green design, such as access to natural light and ventilation and choosing materials that are low in harmful chemicals, can improve retail takings.

“Products stored in areas lit by natural light sold in higher numbers than products kept under artificial light, often to a significant degree. By switching the locations of certain products, stores could enhance sales of one and decrease sales of the other,” Wicks added.

Scientific studies clearly show that natural light increases mood and productivity in the workplace. Evidence from retailers shows that it has the same effect on customers in a sales environment. Big-brand retail stores that light their checkout environment using natural light tend to have higher per-customer spending than their artificially lit counterparts.

“Installing natural lighting above checkouts is an excellent way to enhance the mood of customers and increases their likelihood of purchasing products. Due to the forward location of checkouts, customers can benefit from walking in to store and experiencing natural light, as well as departing into natural light,” Wicks said.