Sunlight & Spending


It’s time for businesses to consider ditching those fluorescent bulbs in favor of sun lamps, because a scholarly study conducted by researchers at the University of Alberta and the University of Winnipeg in Canada, published in the November 2010 Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, has some compelling statements on the matter. In the study titled, “The effect of weather on consumer spending,” the authors cited years of similar research which shows that- as we all know from our own lives- exposure to sunlight can improve our moods, and that people in a good mood are more likely to spend money. They then built on these studies to propose that, “the effect of weather – and, in particular, sunlight – on consumer spending is mediated by negative affect. That is, as exposure to sunlight increases, negative affect decreases and consumer spending tends to increase.”

After performing a series of mixed methods studies, they stated, “we find that participants exposed to artificial sunlight are willing to pay significantly more for a variety of products than participants exposed to regular lighting only, and that this effect is mediated by negative affect.” They went on to suggest that retailers should consider both incorporating natural lighting and/or artificial sunlight, and also increasing lighting levels on days in which the weather is bad in order to reduce negative feelings and increase spending.

On the flipside, the researchers acknowledged that they conducted their study during the cooler half of the year, and also considered that “the effect of more sunlight on retail sales becomes negative when the weather is already warm (e.g., during the summer).” This just reinforces my hypothesis that the only stores seeing increased sales from consumers who are overexposed to sunlight are the ones selling aloe and painkillers.

Photo credit : (cc-by-nc-nd) Bruno Monginoux / : nature and urban photography, free stock photos