Music in shops: does it attract or deter customers?

February 13, 2020 Music

The pre-Christmas shopping frenzy for most of us is not at all associated with the time we spend on finding presents for our loved ones. We are badly affected by the crowd in the shops, but above all by music. In the opinion of customers, carols played too loudly and Christmas hits cause irritation. Not only that. Excessive sound in shopping malls has a bad effect on health. Can something change?

The last days before Christmas are a time of intensive shopping. Shops and shopping malls then experience a real siege. This is the best time of year for salespeople. According to the Deloitte report "Christmas shopping 2015" Poles buy presents in shopping malls (29%) and supermarkets (24%). A constant element that accompanies pre-Christmas shopping is the music playing in the shops. Carols and Christmas hits are supposed to make shopping more pleasant for customers. But is that true? Looking at the reactions of customers and opinions expressed on Internet forums, among others, the music is usually too loud, tiring, even repulsive.

The problem of louder music in shops is particularly noticeable in December. At the point of sale, there is more noise than usual due to the increased number of customers and the shelving of goods. In addition, most people are tired of working days. Loud music in the shop becomes extremely annoying and translates into a worse mood. It is also important that the shop is properly equipped to provide acoustic comfort, and this is not the best in Poland.

- Increased number of clients causes additional acoustic discomfort around. If we put on this carol singing and the fact that shopkeepers rarely care about acoustics in the store, we get an answer as to why most customers run away from the mall as soon as possible instead of spending more time shopping," notes Sylwia Rudnicka from the Polish branch of Armstrong, a manufacturer of acoustic suspended ceilings.

Noisy shopping mall badly affects health

In the USA, the influence of music on consumer behaviour has been studied for years. Many extensive analyses and books have been produced on this subject. Julian Treasure, a sound expert, has been suggesting for years to improve the acoustics of a retail outlet. This can increase the sales value in the store by 5-10 percent.

In Poland, no one has conducted in-depth research, there is a belief that music is necessary and makes shopping more pleasant. And the fact that it is sometimes too loud seems to be noticed only by customers who complain even about the largest and most experienced marketing chains. They complain about individual shops and entire shopping malls. Not without reason. Noise has a negative impact on behaviour and well-being. The level of 70-80 dB that prevails in a noisy shop or restaurant causes a psychological and physiological reaction of the body. People in such conditions start to be annoyed, their blood pressure increases, they are distracted and tired. These negative reactions are even stronger when noisy sounds are unwanted.

Music in the shop

However, customers have an alternative, they can simply leave the noisy shop and shop at a more friendly retail outlet. This is not the way out for shop and market employees. For them, listening to loud carols for several hours a day is not only an anguish, but also translates into health. Noise that persists in the workplace causes permanent hearing impairment. The problem is raised by trade unions from time to time during the holiday season. However, there are no legal regulations to prohibit employers from playing carols, or even to set a maximum noise level.

- This state of affairs is made even worse by the fact that most shops are designed with the use of materials reflecting the sounds of e.g. glass, stone, plaster and hard floors," stresses Sylwia Rudnicka. Meanwhile, improving shop acoustics does not have to mean big changes and costs. The solutions available on the market allow for easy noise reduction. Suspended ceilings are most effective because they absorb noise over a large area. Where it is not possible to install the entire ceiling, so-called acoustic islands or vertical Baffles can be suspended. The installation of such sound-absorbing elements can reduce the noise level in a room by approx. 7-10 dB.

Mall investors are increasingly aware of

Armstrong's expert notes that the awareness of shopping centre and store owners of the appropriate acoustic conditions is slowly changing. An example of a properly designed investment is the Warsaw MODO Fashion Houses gallery opened in autumn. The building was designed by the famous APA Wojciechowski office. The architects and investor Devin Investments decided to install Armstrong acoustic ceilings. In total, 530 Optima L Canopy island ceilings, in various shapes (circles, ellipses, triangles, hexagons), have been installed there to ensure appropriate acoustics, but also design. Island ceilings installed in passageways effectively absorb unnecessary noise and noise. Traditional mineral acoustic ceilings have also been installed in other parts of the MODO centre.

Undoubtedly, well-designed shopping malls will be realized more and more often. And noisy shops, how to change them?

- This can also be influenced by the customers themselves. How? Avoiding noisy shops, not only during pre-Christmas shopping," says Sylwia Rudnicka.

February 13, 2020 Music