Providing shade in retail environments dramatically impacts the overall customer experience. Properly designed, creative shade solutions structures enhance comfort, enable extended outdoor activities, and can even bolster sales for retail businesses.
When planning and installing shade structures for retail spaces, restaurants, and commercial property entrances, considerations include climate, placement, user circulation, and pairing shade with complementary amenities.
Different Types of Shade Structures
There are several common ways of adding shade to outdoor spaces. Some of the best available shade structures include:
Cantilever or freestanding umbrellas offer versatile shading that can be easily repositioned in an outdoor area. However, umbrellas only cover a small footprint and durability can be a concern in high-wind areas.
Fabric sails mounted on metal frames provide elegantly shaped semi-transparent coverage. Triangular sails work well to add shade to corner placements while squares and rectangles suit central courtyards.
Open-air pavilions supported by pillars with a roof structure are a popular way of adding shade to tables in an outdoor area. They range from small to extended covered areas for dining or lounge spaces.
Fixed awnings and retractable awnings mounted on buildings give adjustable horizontal shade coverage. They also protect from rainfall when appropriately angled.
The Impact of Shade Structures on the Customer Experience
Well-designed sun shelters enhance a retail space's ambiance, promote guest relaxation, enable all-weather use of spaces, and extend dwell time — key factors that improve the customer experience and sales.
Comfort & Ambiance
Creative shade solutions allow guests to enjoy retail businesses' outdoor spaces despite harsh direct sunlight and summer heat. Structures block UV exposure to create comfortable microclimates up to 20° F cooler. Soft filtered light passing through shade sails or canopies creates inviting areas for lounging and spending time. Explore UV-resistant tech in shade structures.
Without sufficient sun protection, few people will linger in sunny spaces for long. Adding shade structures encourages customers to stay longer and participate in activities like:
- Outdoor dining/drinking under pavilion restaurants
- Prolonged shopping at boutiques protected by awnings
- Socializing in shaded lounge areas
- Waiting for store openings under covered walkways
Creative shade solutions provide critical protection when rain or snow threatens a retail space's outdoor area. Overhead coverage also shelters entrances on hot days when shoppers seek respite from the direct sun after walking through uncovered parking lots. Retractable awnings even allow adjustable rain and sunlight control.
By boosting comfort and dwell time, shade structures improve the shopping experience and encourage longer and repeat customer visits — factors strongly tied to increased spending. Cooler shaded spaces also promote ordering cold beverages, which boosts sales. Extended outdoor seating under shade sails and canopies increases restaurant revenue when more tables are turned over.
Choosing the Right Shade Structures for Your Retail Space
When adding shade structures in retail spaces, considerations include sun coverage needs, high-traffic areas, seasonal site usage, aesthetics, durability, and integration with the landscape.
Sun Exposure Analysis
A shade analysis based on sun charts determines areas needing coverage during peak sunlight hours. Structures can then target the most troublesome solar exposures. For maximum effectiveness, add shade elements to cover key activity zones from 10 am to 4 pm daily during seasons of frequent use.
High-Traffic Outdoor Areas
Shade demands spike in zones with queues, seating areas, short-term parking lots, smoking zones, etc. These high-traffic areas accrue the most pedestrian hours exposed to sunlight. Adding shade structures to intersections and chokepoints where people congregate optimizes their impact.
Whatever style is chosen — umbrellas, sails, pavilions, awnings, or trees — shade structures must complement the retail building design visually. Their shape, size, height, and layout should match building architecture and landscaping aesthetics. Durability also matters tremendously due to weather, crowds, and potential vandalism.
Pairing Shade with Amenities
Successfully shaded outdoor spaces allow users to comfortably enjoy amenities paired with the shade itself. These include:
- Shaded seating and tables
- Ornamental planting beds
- Water features
- Fire pits or heaters (for evening use)
- Mist fans
- Phone charging stations
- WiFi hotspots
- Retail displays and vendors
Well-planned sun shelters open opportunities to provide guests with unique services and shopping experiences that encourage repeat visits and directly support commercial retail goals.
About Furniture Leisure
Furniture Leisure has led the commercial outdoor furniture industry since 2003. For over 20 years, we have supplied thousands of customers nationwide with durable, quality furnishings built to withstand intensive public use.
We offer a huge selection of commercial-grade products like picnic tables, grills, benches, bike racks, trash receptacles, bleachers, and more. Our outdoor amenities include hotels, parks, apartments, campgrounds, offices, and many other public spaces across the country.
At Furniture Leisure, our experienced team works closely with clients to recommend customized furnishing packages tailored to your space and needs. We deliver beautiful, functional outdoor projects within budget.
Contact us today to find the best premium commercial shade structures available. Our experts guarantee outstanding service and complete satisfaction.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What Are the Most Popular Shade Structures for Retail Businesses?
The most popular and versatile shade structures for retail spaces are retractable awnings, small pavilion shelters, large umbrella installations, and sail shades or tensile canopies. These creative shade solutions check the key boxes of adjustability, durability, and visually lightweight designs that integrate with contemporary retail building design and the outdoor environment. Peruse premium metal shade structures available in our catalog.
What Factors Should Guide Shade Structure Selection for Restaurants?
For restaurant shade, prime considerations include the size of the outdoor dining area needing coverage, whether structures are seasonal or permanent, local climate challenges like intense sunlight or strong winds, and pairing shade with complementary patio amenities. The proportions and footprint must also suit layouts with sufficient space for safe circulation between seating.
How Much Shade Is Optimal for a Retail Courtyard?
The ideal amount of shade coverage for a retail courtyard is 50-60% during peak sunlight hours. Focus on adding shade structures to high-traffic zones and seating areas while allowing pools of sunlight in lower-traffic regions to avoid a dark, cave-like feeling. Thoughtful blending of shaded and sunny areas creates comfortable, inviting retail atmospheres that thoughtfully mix heat relief and open sky.
What Is the Best Shade Solution for Store Entrance Queues?
For retail space entryways and storefront queues, cantilevered awnings, arcades, or colonnades supported by pillars generally provide suitable shade coverage. A depth of at least 7 feet accommodates waiting lines while shielding traffic chokepoints where shoppers may linger before entering.