Retail Outlet -The Energy Guzzler

Modern retail with its advantages and disadvantages is here to stay. While the politicians, businessmen, trade unions and the general public talk only about the employment, consumption, manufacturing, efficiency in supply chain, better prices for the farmers products with the arrival of modern retail there is one aspect which is generally ignored by all. That is of the energy consumption by these outlets. This is a critical issue especially in countries which have a power shortage.

During the drive back home in the evening all the retail outlets especially the ones selling jewellery were all decked up with lighting on the outside. A friend remarked that half of the power consumption in the city is by such outlets. What a waste!! She said. How true she was!! While for the retail outlets it’s a hygiene factor to ensure attraction to the customers for a common man it is definitely a waste of power.

If one observes the power consumption in a retail outlet one would be very surprised. Apart from the normal lighting required and the air conditioning there are lots of areas where the power is consumed in excess in the retail outlets. The First aspect would be the amount of artificial lighting in the store even in broad day light. An apparel section will have certain kind of lighting to highlight the colors of the fabric, fruits and vegetable section will have certain kind of lighting to highlight the freshness of the products. Each section has differential lighting based on the product sold.

Another aspect of high power consumption is the number of chillers (-4 degree centigrade used for dairy products) and freezers (-18 degree centigrade used for frozen vegetables, French fries, ice cream).The chillers and freezers are never optimally used in any store. 2 liters soft drink bottles are kept in chillers as customers prefer such products as confirmed by the store staff. This is a surprise to me as customers prefer a cold bottle only for immediate consumption while a 2 liters bottle can never be consumed immediately. The chillers are not meant to store such heavy products. Another observation being stocks of the dairy products kept within the cartons in the chiller. Imagine the amount of power consumed to cool the carton and then the inner product.

Another high power consumption point is the ice cream freezer. Each store will have ice cream freezers from multiple brands instead of placing all the brands in a single freezer. Infact one of the executives of an MNC ice cream brand stated that lot of these ice cream freezers are made in China which are low on purchase cost but high on power consumption cost. All these leads to high power consumption in the stores

While some stores have closed (with the doors) chillers & freezers most of the stores have open chiller and freezer. In open chiller freezer there is a free movement of hot and cold air and hence an overlap. This leads to higher power consumption. Even the customer behavior in the purchase of such products from closed chiller and freezer is interesting. The customer is expected to see through the glass doors and decide on the product to be bought. Open the chiller/ freezer door to just pick the product. But unfortunately due to improper display of the products in the chiller & freezer and the customer habits he/ she opens the door looks through the products and then finally decides to buy or not to buy the product. Here even if the chiller and freezer is closed to ensure cold air remains within the equipment due to customer habits there is again an overlap of hot and cold air. While one customer may spend around a minute or so deciding on the purchase after opening the chiller/ freezer door imagine thousands of customers doing so in a day. All this leads to high power consumption.

While there are certain aspects which are beyond the control of a retailers there are lots of aspects on which a retailer can save on the energy consumed.

Any other areas where there is excess consumption of power in a retail outlet? Any observations on how a retailer saved on the energy cost.

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