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Biophilic Retail Spaces

Living within a consumer society means that retail environments play a central position in our everyday lives – in fact, retail covers 43% of the total value of commercial property1 and a recent House of Commons report stated that during 2014, consumers in the UK spent around a staggering £378 billion.2

Research has shown that Biophilic Design principles used within retail settings can create an enticing and calming environment for both customers and employees.3 The World Green Business council has recently released a report that highlights key environmental factors that that will optimize retail environments; natural light, improved indoor air quality, acoustics and incorporating biophilic design into the overall look and feel of a retail interior4.

Innisfree exterior

Innisfree exterior

Installation designed by SOFTlab, store designed by Innisfree, photography courtesy of Innisfree

Naturally lit retail spaces can create an energising yet calming atmosphere, which can instinctively attract customers and increase their dwell time spent in the space – leading to an increased number of sales. In fact, an extensive study linking day light to retails sales was conducted in a chain of 73 stores across California – 49 of which relied on artificial lighting. Reports showed that there was a 40% increase in sales after the installation of skylights within these stores.5 In a separate study, Walmart also developed a concept store where only half of it was day-lit, and found that sales per sq. foot were significantly higher within those brighter areas.6

natural light

Natural light

Installation designed by SOFTlab, store designed by Innisfree, photography courtesy of Innisfree

Natural light is an instant mood enhancer, which can have positive psychological effects on employees, improving their motivation, productivity and overall job satisfaction. It can also help to put customers in a more positive buying mood, which further contributes to an increase in sales.

Not only does natural light have physical and psychological benefits, but it can also improve a company’s store economically, by helping to reduce its heating and cooling costs. Walmart stores that were re-fitted with skylights found that profits per square foot, from increased sales were about 20 times the savings in energy costs.7


Additional Reading

1 World Green Building Council. Health, wellbeing and productivity in retail: the impact of green buildings on people and profit.

2 Rhodes, Chris. (2014) House of Commons Library. The retail industry: statistics and policy

3 Terrapin Bright Green Report: The Economics of Biophilia (Section 2.3 The Importance of Nature in Retail Spaces)

4 World Green Building Council. Health, wellbeing and productivity in retail: the impact of green buildings on people and profit.

5 Heschong Mahone Group. (1999) Skylighting and Retail Sales: An investigation into the relationship between daylighting and human performance.

6 Romm, Joseph J. and William D. Browning. Greening the Building and the Bottom Line. Rocky Mountain Institute. Snowmass, Colorado. 1994.

7 Romm, Joseph J. and William D. Browning. Greening the Building and the Bottom Line. Rocky Mountain Institute. Snowmass, Colorado. 1994.

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