Lighting charity shops sustainably is more crucial than you think, explains lighting retailer Tamlite
As Charity Retail Association (CRA) members, most of you reading this blog already know charity stores play a fundamental role in today's society. They enable recycling and reuse of old clothes or toys for example, passing useful goods on to those in need of affordable alternatives.
Moreover, charity shops are a focal point of the local community, offering both employment and social opportunities.
You know all this. But what may be less well realised is how crucially sustainability, and sustainable lighting can benefit operations.
Why charity shops need sustainability
A recent Telegraph story argues that of 10,500 charity shops in the UK, too many of them are being run inefficiently despite the generous tax breaks they attract.
The paper's words will not please CRA members; charity stores, unlike for-profit retailers, work to triple bottom line benefits; they have social and environmental criteria to meet, not the whims of shareholders. The tax breaks are there to do good.
But at Tamlite, we think charity stores should be both energy and cash efficient. This sets the right example, delivering a more pleasant, sustainable retail environment for shoppers and staff, and making more money for useful causes.
The path to energy efficient retail light
There are some simple bonuses to installing energy efficient lighting. For a start, you will be looking at reduced energy costs; The Carbon Trust says a 20% cut in energy costs represents the same bottom line benefit as a 5% increase in sales.
Further, the best lighting makes charity shops look and feel like other high street stores, attracting more customers and enhancing brand image.
Increased sales is the natural result of both these moves, but additionally those who invest in sustainable lighting will find reduced maintenance costs too. Ultimately a charity’s energy spend is funded by public donations, so it’s really important to use money wisely and efficiently.
The Cancer Research UK story
Cancer Research UK has already invested in energy efficient lighting through Tamlite. The charity recently embarked upon an initiative to ensure its 600 UK shops look and feel as good as high street brands. The programme of work has included the specification of lighting for new shops, plus a review and upgrade of lighting to the remaining estate.
Since putting in the LEDs, the income percentage uplift at the charity's Armley store, west of Leeds, was a remarkable 49%.
The results show a link between good lighting design and improved sales; and this stands to reason. If visitors feel comfortable in store, it makes sense that they are more likely to linger and ultimately purchase something.
Then there are the benefits of the greater lifecycle, meaning fewer failures and a lower number of maintenance call-outs, as well as significantly lower energy consumption. A win-win.
With the new lights, and an expected lifespan of 50,000 hours, the charity is poised to achieve a significant reduction in maintenance costs, and they are cooler, helping control temperature in store.
With this evidence, it’s clear that the charity sector can only stand to benefit by keeping up to speed with the best on greener credentials.
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