Although ambient lighting and atmosphere are intuitively related, there is a paucity of empirical, naturalistic data supporting such a relation. The objective of this study was to investigate the contribution of lighting in evoking an atmosphere in the real world, amongst the extensive set of other cues available there. In a field study involving 57 clothing stores, lighting attributes (e.g. brightness, contrast, glare and sparkle) and context (i.e. the shop’s interior) were assessed and quantified independently. These data were then used to predict four dimensions of perceived atmosphere in hierarchical regression analyses. Lighting attributes and interior qualities were both related to perceived atmosphere. This indicated that, even given the substantial contribution of design elements in retail environments, lighting plays a role in evoking atmosphere.