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Expert Column: The Benefits of Cooler Doors on Open Cases


Grocery stores and supermarkets have long grappled with the option of converting traditional open cooler cases to doored cases. The lingering hesitation has stemmed from questions regarding their possible effect on sales and the cost effectiveness of the conversion, two critical issues that can now be resolved.

With the preponderance of evidence now available, the clear winner is retrofitting with doors. New technologies, innovative designs and shopper research give the indisputable edge to doored cases in both categories.

Energy Efficiency

Doors win hands down in this area. A study showed that replacing 120 feet of open dairy cases with doors reduced a store’s annual energy cost from $19,078 to $5,533, saving $13,545 per year based on 10 cents per KWH, a reduction of 71 percent.

Retrofitting with doors also allows utilization of state-of-the-art LED lighting that is considerably more energy-efficient than traditional T8 bulbs. On average, a LED array will consume 75 percent less power than an equivalent T8 bulb.

Sales Boost and Customer Comfort

In answer to the lingering concern over the effect of doors on sales, a study published by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) in 2010 concluded statistically that retrofitting with doors has no negative effect on sales.

Additionally, retailers have observed increased impulse buys in refrigerated food aisles because doors provide a more comfortable ambient air temperature resulting in customers lingering there longer.

Enhanced Product Presentation

Today, product merchandising and presentation is more important than ever. New door designs with extremely slim frames offer extended product visibility to showcase products in appealing views never before possible. In addition, retailers are turning to French Door configurations, designed without a center mullion that offer a large, outstanding product viewing area and convenient customer product access.

In this same vein, retailers have more choices today for their cooler format and configurations. Door sizes range from 24 inches to 36 inches for maximum configuration flexibility.

Superior LED Lighting

In addition their lower energy consumption, LEDs have a much longer longer life than T8 bulbs and on average will last 350 percent longer for significantly decreased maintenance and labor costs.

The physical nature of LEDs also allows numerous innovative lighting configurations for store design and merchandising flexibility not possible with T8 bulbs or with open cases. Strategically placed LED lights across the doored case top, along the sides and under the shelves make products “pop” to shoppers, and the enhanced illumination imparts an extremely clean look not possible in open cases. In addition, LEDs are available in a wide spectrum of Kelvin temperatures to optimize the look and feel of products.

LEDs are also more environmentally friendly than T8 bulbs because they do not emit potentially harmful UV rays or contain mercury, which requires special hazardous waste disposal.

Time to Make the Change

Cost savings, labor reductions, merchandising enhancements and higher sales potential make retrofitting open cold cases with doored cases a winner on all fronts. With attractive, efficient new designs and innovative technologies available, doored cases are today’s competitive necessity for more efficient operations and greater profitability.

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