What Color Should You Paint Your Sales Floor?

by Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender

Customers make value judgments about your store within the first ten seconds of contact – it isn’t fair but we all do it. You’ve spent hours in your favorite store because you felt comfortable being there. You’ve also walked into stores and walked back out just as quickly. Each stores’ décor had something to do with how long you stayed.
There are two uses of color in store décor: Primary Colors (neutrals) and Secondary Colors (bold accent colors). The primary color should be 80 percent of your store’s décor; its job is to create a relaxed atmosphere for customers to shop. Your accent color(s) take up the remaining 20 percent of your décor.
Color Psychology
Different colors have a different effect on people. It’s important to take this into consideration when choosing your store decor.
Red is the color most used in packaging because it grabs attention. Look closely at grocery aisles and you’ll notice that over 80 percent of the items have red on their labels. On the sales floor, red is most often used to announce a sale or a sharp price.
It’s a great accent color because it stimulates shoppers to make quick decisions, but as a primary color it’s a bust. Too much red can make people anxious, even angry. In fact, many people cannot tolerate the color red in large doses – exposure to red actually speeds up our metabolism. It has also been proven to raise blood pressure and increase respiration rates.
Pink is a happy, romantic, light-hearted color. There’s a reason Pepto-Bismol is pink; like the color itself, it’s soothing. Sports teams have been known to paint guest locker rooms pink to drain the opposing team’s energy. Baker-Miller Pink is said to be the perfect pink hue.
Orange makes people happy. It’s a motivating attention-getter that just makes you feel good. Orange is the color of energy and enthusiasm, and it has a positive effect on people.
Yellow is an optimistic color, it’s warm and cheery. Have you ever wondered why legal pads are yellow? It’s because yellow is supposed to help with concentration.
We see yellow before we see any other colors. It’s especially effective when used with black, that’s why “Caution” and other important signs use this color combination. But too much yellow can be hard on the eyes, causing fatigue or agitation – not good for creative types. And there are plenty of studies that show babies cry more in yellow rooms.
Green is calming and refreshing. A popular color in home décor, studies have shown that green is relaxing and the easiest color on the eye. That being said, be careful of using too much dark green in your store décor because it’s too easily equated with money. You want customers to shop in peace, not be concerned with how much they are about to spend.
Brown signifies warmth and security. It’s a stable, dependable, down-to-earth color. Various shades of brown in leather and wood have always been popular choices for store fixturing.
Blue is the favorite color to wear to an interview because it represents trust, loyalty, and confidence. The 80/20 rule works with clothing, too; turn on the TV and you’ll see politicians and anchormen wearing dark blue suits with bright ties.
Blue is frequently used in offices because studies show people are more productive when surrounded by it. It’s also said to lower your pulse rate. Blue is commonly used in airplane décor because of its calming qualities, and hospitals rely on light blue to help with healing and to invoke feelings of tranquility.
Purple is a rare color that doesn’t happen too often in nature, perhaps that’s why it’s widely considered the color of royalty. Purple is typically used to symbolize luxury, wealth and sophistication.
White is clean and bright, it’s used to portray light and purity. It has been referred to as the absence of color and also the color of perfection. While it’s a good primary color, it’s hard to take when used all by itself.
We remember a designer shoe store in Las Vegas that was done entirely in white. From the outside the store glowed, and the merchandise really stood out. Inside, the décor was too bright. It took a few moments for your eyes to adjust, not exactly a good thing when the goal is to make customers spend quality time in the store.
Black is at the other end of the spectrum. It’s been described as the presence of all color and it’s an attention grabber. Black fixtures really make merchandise pop. As a wall color it can make a space seem smaller, the same way a black suit can make you look slimmer. Black is a good color to paint a high ceiling. By making the ceiling almost disappear, the space becomes more intimate.
What To Do Next
Decisions, decisions! You can get started by spending time online looking at interior decor ideas or peruse upscale shops to get a feel for how store decor works. Rest assured, they have paid someone big bucks to choose their colors. Model homes and five star hotels are a good bet as well. You can hire a store planner or an interior decorator. Or you can just do it yourself. What’s the worst that can happen? You paint the wall another color. Sure that takes time, but not a whole lot of money. Paint and hardware stores offer free design help and free color charts. And if you aren’t into commitment, many paint companies sell tiny sample jars so you can test drive the color first. Another great resource is the Color Marketing Group. We bet you'll find a bottomless pit of ideas on Pinterest, too.
At the end of the day, your store décor must do two things: make shoppers feel comfortable in the store, and most importantly, let the merchandise shine. You’ll want to choose a color scheme that suits your merchandise, your space, and your brand identity.


Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender are professional speakers, retail strategists, authors and consultants whose client list reads like a “Who’s Who” in business. Companies internationally depend upon them for timely advice on consumers and the changing retail market place. KIZER & BENDER’s observations are widely featured in national newspapers, national and international industry and consumer publications, and on radio and television programs across the U.S. You can learn more at www.KizerandBender.com.