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4 Factors That Determine If Department Signs Help Your Sales

4 Factors That Determine If Department Signs Help Your Sales

A successful independent grocery store or neighborhood market attracts customers by understanding their needs. Then they drive sales by making it as easy as possible for customers to have those needs met; clear department signs and other grocery store signage are two ways to help meet those needs. 

What are customers looking for when choosing a grocery store? The top four criteria are proximity to their work or home, cleanliness, apparent attention to health and safety, and food availability.1“The state of grocery in North America” by McKinsey & Company ( 6/8/21 )

When a customer stops at your market because it’s close to their home or work, how do you help them quickly find what they need? Once they find what they are looking for, how do you convey cleanliness and show that you prioritize your customers’ health and safety?

60% of businesses report having, on average, a 10% or more increase in sales simply by updating their signs or increasing the number of signs in their store.2“Economic Value of On-Premise Signage” by Sign Research Foundation Not all wayfinding signs work equally well, however. 

The four primary factors that influence how well department signs and grocery store signage perform

  1. Size matters
  2. Proximity is key
  3. Topicality demands attention
  4. Color sets the mood.


54% of American consumers report failing to find something because a sign was too small or unclear.3“UC Research Finds that Consumers Rely on Signage over Other Ad Media” by University of Cincinnati That translates directly into lost sales. Clarity and legibility from a distance are essential to help customers find your store and then, once inside, quickly locate the products they want.

The size of your department signs helps people navigate the store by providing an information hierarchy. If all of your signs are the same size, it creates visual noise and makes navigating the store more difficult. Your largest signs should guide customers to the primary departments they use to orient themselves, such as the Produce, Meat & Seafood, or Bakery Departments.

Then secondary, and even tertiary, level department signs help direct customers to more specific sections, such as a “Pharmacy Pick-up” sign. Your signage should also help your customers know where and how to perform particular actions, like an “Order Here” sign in your Deli or Prepared Food Department.

So what is the right size for a department sign? First, determine the space that you have available, including your ceiling height. Then consider where the sign falls in the hierarchy: Is it a primary department sign or a secondary or tertiary sign? The sign should be as large as can be reasonably justified within the context of the space available and where it falls in the hierarchy of other signage. Shop2It Retail provides size options for each department sign, providing you the flexibility necessary to best decorate your store.

4 Factors That Determine If Department Signs Help Your Sales


When your customer gets to the area where your department sign has led them, they should quickly and easily find what they need. Suppose you hang a “Salad” sign in your prepared food section. In that case, the customer will expect to see a salad bar or prepared salads when they get to that area. Suppose you hang that same “Salad” Department Sign in produce. In that case, the customer is more likely to expect salad-making ingredients when they arrive at the designated area.

The same rules apply to all levels of your department sign hierarchy. Make sure the sign is mounted as close to the items in question as possible.

Hanging signs, for example, should be out of the customer’s reach but as close to eye level as possible. The height above the finished floor (AFF) is critical for these signs. We generally recommend 96-inches or more AFF height, but no lower than 80-inches AFF for hanging department signs.

Wall-mounted department signs will be limited more by the locations of soffits or coolers. You want to aim for approximately 96″ plus AFF as often as possible. Take into consideration your ceiling height and balance the distance between coolers and your ceiling, aiming for a visual center.


There are two ways to view topicality in the context of your grocery store signage. First, your department signs and other signage need to represent your brand. The colors and words you choose create a sense of who your business is. So, select a style of signage that reflects your brand identity. If you are a “fun” brand, choose bright colors and catchy phrases. If you are a natural market, incorporate natural textures and phrases that highlight the freshness and quality of your products. With an infinite number of brand identities, Shop2It Retail has a variety of sign packages to fit your specific needs.

The second way to view topicality in the context of your grocery store signage is how the text itself represents the items in your store. Being aware of market trends can help match what consumers want with the phrases used on your signs. For example, as people strive to be healthier, customers are drawn to fresh and organic products.4“Supermarkets & Grocery Stores Industry in the US – Market Research Report” by IBISWorld Using signs to highlight fresh and organic products as you direct consumers through your store can help drive sales.

4 Factors That Determine If Department Signs Help Your Sales

Identifying fresh and organic products can be done in a couple of ways:

  1. Top-level department signs: The word “Fresh” can be added in front of “Produce” or “Meat & Seafood”.
  2. Lower-level department signs: You can convey the impression of freshness or high quality by using words like “Choice”, “Quality”, or “Farm”. Terms related to freshness also work, such as “Crisp”, “Seasonal”, or “Naturally Grown”.


Color primarily works in subconscious ways. High contrast color combinations for wayfinding and directional signage increase readability and comprehension. High contrast combinations are also more eye-catching for your customers.

The highest contrast you can get is black and white combinations, but going to this extreme can be difficult on the eyes. However, if you prefer a primarily black and white color palette, there are ways to achieve that. We recommend going slightly off true blacks and whites to dark blues, browns, or grays combined with off whites or muted colors. This approach can recreate the same feel of black and white without the harshness of that contrast.

4 Factors That Determine If Department Signs Help Your Sales

When choosing a décor package, avoiding difficult-to-read color combinations is critical. You want to create contrast by selecting visually appealing combinations that evoke a sense of the type of environment you want your store to be.

Choose the Right Décor Package for your Store

Retail grocery store signage is the most effective and least expensive form of advertising for your business.5“How Retail Signage Works and Why You Should Care” by Shopify A sign can improve brand recall, encourage people to visit, and influence customers’ purchasing behavior.

Independent grocery stores have several advantages over larger retailers, including their proximity to customers and ability to respond nimbly to trends. One of the easiest ways to use the latest trends to help increase sales is to update signage. The proper signage helps to reflect your products’ freshness and draws attention to promotional products. Using cohesive and coordinated retail signage gives your store a clean and organized look, entices customers to shop with you, and increases profits.