Case Histories: Retail Lighting
Better Lighting Increases Sales at Thalhimers
A lighting system change made to save energy and improve aesthetics at the Thalhimer Brothers Cloverleaf Mall branch store in Richmond, Virginia contributed to an annual sales increase of $1 million.
When the profit portion of the sales increase is considered along with the energy savings of some $20,000 per year, the payback period for replacing a six-year-old system and installing 800 new luminaires and lamps was less than 12 months.
According to Dr. Robert Young, Thalhimers’ vice president of properties at the time, “What we did represents the rapid progress that has been made by the lighting industry. The Richmond store was completed in 1975, almost two years after the OPEC oil embargo that marks the dawn of today’s era of energy awareness. Recognizing the likelihood of future cost increases, we opted for 175W mercury vapor lamps. They were more efficient and longer-lived than incandescent. Although fluorescent lamps provide the color rendering properties we needed. Then, just a few years later, improved color fluorescent lamps were introduced and those are the ones we converted to to attain substantial savings.”
“The new fluorescents we used produce a color that we think is even superior to daylight. The efficiency results in large part because the lamps’ color-rendering properties permit us to provide better seeing conditions for the merchandise even though there is less light. By measurement, we now have about 35fc on the display racks compared to the 50fc we had previously,” Dr. Young said.
The luminaires used also played an important role in the quality and efficiency of the lighting. They distribute light well and control glare effectively and efficiently. The previous fixtures trapped light, thus wasting energy and in some cases causing glare that eroded the appearance of the store.
The store’s new lighting saved $20,500 per year in energy and other operating and maintenance costs. The simple payback on that basis alone would have been 2.3 years, given a total installation cost of $48,000 for equipment, labor and materials.
“Everyone was pleased with the new lighting. Management, of course, was doubly pleased because the improved quality cost so much less. You can imagine the delight, then, when we started to take a look at sales figures. Virtually overnight, sales shot up by about 8%. And it was sustained. The one and only explanation seemed to be the new lighting,” Dr. Young commented.