Survey: What Retailers Think About Lighting

May 5, 2016

LED lamps in grocery storeAre you satisfied with your lighting? When was the last time you considered an upgrade? And what do others agree is an acceptable payback period?


Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) partnered with the California Lighting Technology Center (CLTC) at The University of California, Davis, to survey 87 retailers (notably the apparel, boutique, jewelry, supermarket, furniture and department store sectors) about their lighting choices, preferences and decision making processes. A retail lighting vignette, called Lux, was also created at CLTC to allow participants to compare LED replacement lamps with traditional halogen sources.


Data was collected through a survey at CLTC and as part of follow-up visits to the retailers’ stores. Here’s what the study found:


  • Most respondents rarely thought about lighting upgrades, with 31 percent reporting every three to five years, and 23 percent having never considered one
  • Only 23 percent evaluated lighting more frequently than once per year
  • 83 percent have not made any changes to their lighting systems in the last five years, yet more than 50 percent are unsatisfied with their current lighting
  • 54 percent cited “lack of understanding” among their biggest reservations when considering upgrades; these retailers felt their knowledge of lighting design principles and technologies was lacking, and they were uncertain as to what to look for when selecting LED lamps
  • Still, nearly 75 percent are considering upgrading to LED technologies (76 percent use predominantly incandescent sources)
  • Retailers identified the initial cost of a lighting upgrade as their greatest concern
  • Most would accept a payback period of one to two years for an LED lighting retrofit, but only 13 percent were willing to accept anything longer
  • The survey also revealed that retailers rely most heavily on their peers for information about lighting (just 6 percent consider utilities their primary source for lighting facts or guidance)
  • Many respondents were surprised to find that the color temperature and color rendering available in LED lamps was comparable to that in traditional incandescent or halogen sources
  • A significant number overestimated current price points for LEDs and were unaware of how consistently prices for this technology have continued to drop (according to the DOE, the average cost of an LED luminaire was $180 in 2010 and will be just $45 in 2015)


Explore what’s possible with smart LED and other technologies for retail with Current, powered by GE.

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