Meijer switches up lighting section as incandescent bulbs phase out
WALKER, MI — It’s a popular time of year to stock up on light bulbs.
Meijer traditionally sees light bulb sales increase by up to 40 percent in the weeks surrounding the end of Daylight Saving Time.
The Midwest retailer is timing changes to its lighting sections to coincide with the uptick of bulb purchases.
What shoppers aren’t likely to see in the revamped lighting aisles are incandescent bulbs, which had sold in four-packs for about $1.50.
Thomas Edison’s 19th century invention has been phased out by federal legislation. Although they are cheap to produce, the bulbs aren’t very energy efficient. The last phase of the ban on production went into effect at the beginning of the year.
Meijer’s last shipment of incandescent bulbs was in March, said David Hart, electrical, plumbing and home environment buyer for the 213 supercenter chain.
“We’re now approaching the point where the supply is disappearing, so we’re trying to help our shoppers understand the multiple new options in a category that’s become much more technologically advanced,” said Hart, a self-described lighting geek.
Meijer is the first retailer to partner with GE Light, the largest supplier of its bulbs, on what it calls an education for customers about products post-incandescent bulb. The process began with remodeling lighting aisles in stores.
Now, customers will find lighting options in Halogen, CFL, Covered CFL and LED. The differences are explained with displays and videos.
One of the biggest change will be price. All cost more than the traditional bulb upfront.
The lowest priced option is Halogen, which is about 28 percent more efficient than incandescent and last about 9 months. A four-pack sells for $5.
CFL, compact florescent lighting, which also is available in a covered version, is a technology that has been around for decades. The lights are 75 percent energy efficient and last 5 to 7 years. A six-pack costs about $10.
Some don’t like them because they can take several seconds to warm up, and aren’t fully dimmable. They also aren’t fully recyclable because they contain small amounts of toxic mercury.
LED, short for Light Emitting Diode, lights are 80 percent energy efficient and last up 20 years. They are easy to recycle. But they are the costlier option at the outset. One bulb retails for around $10.
It’s only in recent years that LED light have started to move into the residential market. Five years ago, a LED bulb cost $100, a expense that made sense for business because the light’s 20-year longevity meant they didn’t have to pay to have them changed annually.
In the past 18 months, the cost of LED lights have dropped by two-thirds, Hart said.
“LED is actually the cheaper option,” said Hart. “It’s a little more expensive when you buy it, but more cost effective over the long haul.”
Meijer lighting sections now stock about 300 lighting products, which is a smaller selection from a year ago. Hart says it was a matter of decluttering the aisle to make it easier for shoppers. At the same time, the LED options increased three-fold. The shelves now carry 31 new GE products, many of them designed to resemble incandescent lighting.
“We know the light consumers love, and we’ve reinvented and perfected energy-efficient lighting, like CFL and LED light bulbs, to emulate incandescent light,” said John Strainic, general manager, consumer lighting for GE in North America. “By collaborating with Meijer, we are able to make the lighting aisle experience simpler and more intuitive.”
Strainic says switching to energy-efficient lighting, like LEDs, requires consumers to change the way they’ve lit their homes for more than 100 years.
“We need to help guide them to better understand why LED lighting is the best lighting option, and ultimately, help them grasp that LED is where lighting is headed,” he added.