C-Store Retailers See ROI with LED

LED advancements give retailers more options when it comes to c-store lighting. 

In 2019, technological advancements abound, offering c-stores numerous ways to upgrade their businesses. However, LED lighting may be one of the most profitable technologies for c-store retailers to consider.

In the future, LED lighting is expected to integrate with beacon technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) allowing new ways to map shopper traffic and better target customers with timely smartphone offers.

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One reason LED is so profitable is that it eventually pays for itself, especially in states like California that are associated with high energy prices. LED bulbs are expected to see widespread adoption by 2020.

The cost of standard LEDs has rapidly decreased over the last two years and most local utilities offer a rebate to help lower the upfront cost as well. Numerous varieties exist from both a price and performance perspective. The entry level LEDs are extremely competitive compared to traditional lighting even before a rebate is applied.

Just ask Wesley Campbell, co-owner and vice president of retail operations at Elizabethtown, N.C.-based Campbell Oil Co., which includes the convenience chain Minuteman Food Mart.

In 2018, the company finished retrofitting interior lighting, gasoline canopy lighting and exterior area lighting with LEDs at its 32 locations.

At the end of 2018, Minuteman was already beginning to see an energy savings from the lighting upgrade.

“We have seen good ROI (return-on-investment) numbers at all sites on just strictly energy savings, not including the maintenance efficiencies we have picked up,” Campbell said. “Some have had paybacks in less than six months, depending on the market and the power company.”

Spencer Miles, president-elect of the National Association of Innovative Lighting Distributors (NAILD), said the ROI is becoming even better, especially as LEDs improve.

“The LED tube will last twice as long as a traditional fluorescent and use 50% (less) energy,” Miles said.

LEDs use about 70-90% less energy than incandescent bulbs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

“The quality is improving constantly,” Miles said. “The LPW (lumens per watt) continues to be more efficient. Two years ago it required 18 watts to achieve 1,800 lumens, yet today 10 watts will get you the same amount of lumens.”

As IoT capabilities grow and work more with lighting, Spencer said store lights will be able to track consumers to help owners understand the foot traffic in their stores, what aisles are visited more frequently, offer consumers instant coupons on their smartphones and even pinpoint certain products on the shelf.