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4 Grocery Stores Benefiting from LED Lighting

4 Grocery Stores Benefiting from LED Lighting

Picture this: a bright display of fresh fruits, veggies, and deep red ground beef that has people reconsidering going out for dinner. Turn your customers’ grocery store shopping trip from a must do, to a delightful experience by updating the lighting used for your product displays. The standard lighting choice for many supermarkets is fluorescents. However, with a consistent push in the lighting industry towards LEDs due to their energy efficiency and color rendering properties, your current lighting may not be providing the best experience for your customers.

How to Keep Meat Looking Fresh

Researchers at the University of Missouri conducted an experiment on ground hamburger patties. Each batch of patties was placed under different lighting. One group was lit under fluorescent bulbs, another was left in complete darkness, and one batch was lit by LEDs. The experiment focused on how rapidly the pretty red patties lost that rosy consumer friendly hue and began transforming into a not so fresh looking grey or brown. Results conveyed that complete darkness is best for meat retaining its cherry red color, but LED lighting extended the shelf life of patties three to four days compared to fluorescent lighting, which fared the worst in the experiment. This is likely due to LEDs producing little to no heat or ultra-violet (UV) light.  It should also be noted that LED lighting with high R9 values help to make the color red appear more vibrant.

How to Keep Flowers and Produce Fresh

Color enhancement doesn’t end in the meat section; produce and floral departments also greatly benefit from LEDs. Most LEDs have a color rendering index, or CRI of 80 or higher. On a scale of 0 to 100, a bulb with a CRI closer to 100 will most accurately match natural sun light. For this reason, when an LED light displays a CRI over 90, it is known as a high CRI LED bulb.  However, LEDs aren’t the only lighting that can produce high CRIs. For example, incandescent lighting typically has a CRI of 100, while most fluorescent lamps are between 70-80. Similar to colorful fruits and veggies, flowers come in a multitude of distinct shades. With flowers often being categorized as purchases made on a whim, you may want this section of your supermarket to stand out even more.  Because LEDs transmit very little heat, flowers stay fresh longer when LED bulbs are used. Another helpful tip is to be sure the floral section is placed near an area where natural light is dominant, showcasing their gorgeous colors and boosting sales. Because LEDs emit little to no infrared lighting or UVs, produce typically lasts longer, accounting for less waste and longer shelf life for fruits and vegetables.

Save Money in Your Cold Foods Section

"One of the lessons learned is that LEDs really like the cold. They are low maintenance and they really thrive in that environment. Plus, it puts the lighting exactly where you need it on the product and it’s no waste." Eric Johnson, CSD, Brookshire Brothers

"One of the lessons learned is that LEDs really like the cold. They are low maintenance and they really thrive in that environment. Plus, it puts the lighting exactly where you need it on the product and it’s no waste." Eric Johnson, CSD, Brookshire Brothers

With only a few hours in a day, spending time grabbing grub can be one of the least important things on your shoppers’ daily schedule. For this reason, quite a few of your customers may spend time in the frozen food section of your store.  Typically, frozen sections require not only adequate overhead lighting, but lights inside the refrigerator cases. While fluorescents are the standard, they have been known to pose a few disadvantages.

Due to brisk temperatures inside the refrigerated units, the mercury inside the fluorescent lamps often drop, causing light reduction. Although LEDs do emit heat, they emit less than either incandescent or fluorescent lamps due to their heatsink technology. This allows LED bulbs to last longer and burn out less frequently. One retailer that has already made the switch is Target. Several locations have implemented low wattage LED light fixtures and motion sensors in the refrigerated section to aid in saving energy.  Another bonus for switching in their refrigerated sections is the lights don’t heat up the cases.

Join These Grocers Already Saving with LED Lighting

Although LEDs have generally seen a dip in pricing over recent years, the fact remains, upfront costs can be rather steep. However, maintenance and energy savings can be recouped in just a few years. For example, in 2013 longstanding grocer, Brookshire Brothers replaced their 32-watt bulbs in nearly 450 four-lamp fixtures. Calculated annual savings for the retrofit was over $14,000 annually in electricity costs. Maintenance costs were also diminished. In total, Brookshire Brothers was able to reduce their annual operating spending costs over a whopping $235,000. According to Eric Johnson, CSD, of the Construction and Maintenance Department at Brookshire Brothers, “One of the lessons learned is that LEDs really like the cold. They are low maintenance and they really thrive in that environment. Plus, it puts the lighting exactly where you need it on the product and it’s no waste,” he explained.

In 2014 Walmart committed to upgrading their lighting with GE LEDs in new and existing supercenters across the United States, United Kingdom, Asia, and Latin America. Though the superstore giant has gradually been switching to LEDs for several years, this marks their largest installation.  Improvements will include energy saving lighting inside the entire store and LED parking lot lights. The first all LED lit supercenter in the United States was opened in South Euclid, Ohio. The retailer is currently working towards making all their buildings more energy efficient and anticipates LED use in 20% of their locations by 2020.  

More recently in 2015, Whole Foods Market in Ft Apache, Nevada partnered with Nora Lighting for a massive LED renovation.  The job transformed the store’s entire lighting system into LEDs to help augment energy reduction while lowering costs of maintenance. Although the project was quite challenging, Whole Foods is anticipating doing additional renovations in other locations. Expected payback is 2.75 years for the upgrade. Whole Foods already reports a dramatically improved customer experience.

Smart Lighting in Supermarkets  

Improvements in the relationship between LEDs and supermarkets continue to advance. Aisle411 and Philips partnered for a lighting project in Dubai.  In an effort to help shoppers make purchases quicker, discover bargains, and design an overall enjoyable shopping experience, Phillips has created LED lighting that works with smartphones to help customers find products. Using light waves, codes are transmitted and picked up by the camera on smart phones. The lights connect to a downloadable app, allowing shoppers to see their location in the store.

So whether you decide to implement LEDs into your supermarket or not, they certainly are beginning to light customers’ paths in supermarkets. After all, any light that can make radishes look like rubies is at least worth looking into. Are you ready to upgrade your grocery store lighting system? Contact our sales department for help at (800) 624-4488 or fill out the form to contact us.

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